Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sweet Corn with Slow Roasted Tomatoes & Grilled Steak with Lemon-Thyme Butter

Several years ago I helped a friend cater a summer picnic. One of the things she served was a delicious baked dish of corn and vine-ripened tomatoes. All the food at the picnic was really good, but it is the sweet and tangy taste of this dish that I particularly remember. A few months ago when I started to put together a recipe list for a class called "A Summer Steak Dinner for Friends", her dish came to mind. My friend served it with fried chicken, but I thought that its vibrant and friendly flavors would be perfect with a grilled steak...and they were.

When I made my version of this dish I decided to make a quick sauté instead of a baked dish. To get the rich concentrated tomato flavor I remembered, I used some of the slow roasted tomatoes I wrote about a few days ago. If you have some of these (along with their liquid) on hand, this dish goes together in a snap.

Besides the corn and tomatoes, the only other thing in the dish is a bunch of scallions—inspired by a summer salad of corn and tomatoes that ran in Gourmet a few years ago. If you don't have any scallions, you could start out by caramelizing some sweet summer onions (sliced or diced) and finish with a handful of fresh herbs (chives...parsley....basil...dill...etc.) instead of the green of the scallions.

The steak I made to go with the corn and tomatoes—pre-salted, grilled and smeared with a compound butter—was about as simple as it gets. If you are not familiar with compound (or flavored) butters, check out the "basics" post I wrote a couple of summers ago. In that post I focused on how much a flavored butter can enhance a piece of fish (smeared over the surface before baking/roasting), some corn on the cob or a quick sauté of mixed vegetables. But one of the best things you can do with a compound butter is slather it over a steak while it rests...the butter melts, basting the steak and mingling with the meat juices released during the resting process.

The result is a flavorful, meaty sauce. For this steak I made a lemon-thyme butter, enhanced with a bit of garlic and anchovy. It was super good on the steak and I think it would also be excellent on lamb.

Because corn is so good with potatoes and bacon, I rounded out the entrée for my class with a platter of potatoes roasted with sage and bacon. I posted the recipe last year. For my class I added a drizzle/dollop of Herbed Sour Cream. It was unbelievably good with the potatoes. To make it, to a cup of sour cream add 2 tablespoons each of minced chives and minced Italian flat leaf parsley. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Thin with milk if you prefer a "drizzle" to a "dollop".

If you aren't fond of steak, you should still try this simple sauté of corn and slow roasted tomatoes. We had it for dinner one evening a couple of weeks ago with a plain pan seared pork chop and it was delicious. I am also certain that it would be great with a nice piece of sautéed halibut...or fried chicken.... No matter how you choose to serve it, I'm sure you will be surprised and pleased by the astonishing flavor of this simple summer dish.

Sautéed Sweet Corn & Roasted Tomatoes

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, keeping white parts and greens separate
2 T. Olive oil
4 cups corn kernels (from 4 to 6 large ears of corn)
1/4 to 1/2 c. tomato liquid (see recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes)
1 to 1 1/4 lbs. vine ripened tomatoes, Slow-Roasted (1/3 of a recipe), cut into a rough 1/2-inch dice

In a 12-inch heavy sauté pan set over medium-high heat, cook the white parts of the scallions in the olive oil along with a generous pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until golden—about 4 minutes. Add the corn and continue to cook. When the corn is hot and sizzling—after 2 or 3 minutes—add a quarter cup of the roasted tomato liquid. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced and the corn is just tender—about 2 or 3 minutes more. If the pan dries out before the corn is cooked the way you like, add a bit more of the liquid.

When the corn is just tender, add the pieces of slow-roasted tomatoes, along with the green parts of the scallions, and heat through. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serves 6 to 8.

(Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine, July 2009)

Strip Steak with Lemon-Thyme Butter

4 strip steaks, about 12 oz. each and about 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch thick
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 recipe Lemon-Thyme Butter

At least 4 hours before cooking the steak, and preferably the night before, season the steaks with the salt (use 3/4 t. kosher salt per pound of steak) and pepper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate. About 30 minutes before you plan to cook the steaks, take it out of the refrigerator.

Heat grill to high (you will only be able to hold your hand 2 to 4 inches above the grate for a count of 2 or 3 seconds). If the steaks appear wet, blot with a paper towel. Rub the steaks lightly with oil. Place the steaks on the grill.

After 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, rotate the steaks a quarter turn (this will create attractive “crosshatch” grill marks). After another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, turn the steaks over and cook for a total of 3 to 4 minutes, rotating the steak one quarter turn half-way through the cooking time.

Finally, using a tongs, sear the edges of the steaks—about a minute for each long edge. This steak should be more or less medium rare. For a slightly more well done steak, increase the grilling time slightly. For a substantially more well done steak, it may be necessary to reduce the temperature in addition to increasing the time over the flame. When the steaks are done to your liking, transfer them to a plate. Spread a quarter of the compound butter over each steak and allow it to melt as the steaks rest.

Slice the steaks on a slight diagonal and serve. Serves 8.

Temperature Guidelines for determining “Doneness”:

Rare (cool red center)  —  120°
Medium Rare (warm red center)  —  125°
Medium (rosy center)  —  130°
Medium well (pink center)  —  135°
Well done (no pink)  —  140°

Remember to remove the meat from the oven when the temperature in the center is about 5° lower than the desired final temperature—the meat will continue to cook as it rests.

Lemon-Thyme Butter

2 oz. (4 T.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 t. lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt
1 anchovy, smashed to a paste
1 T. picked thyme leaves, minced
Salt and pepper

Cream the butter with the lemon juice and zest, garlic, anchovy and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the butter to sit at room temperature for about half an hour to give the flavors an opportunity to blend and infuse the butter. Use immediately, or chill (or freeze).


A Sunflower Life said...

What a lucious meal! The corn looks so refreshing, and that steak! Yum!

Anonymous said...

Oh what a wonderful meal!!! fantasic combination!!
Mary x