Kitchen Accomplish: Steak and Tomatoes

By John Kirkendall

Are you in the mood for a terrific New York Strip Steak. I’m not talking about a slender slice of beef here. 
We’re looking at a very thick steak that will be started on the stove and end up in the oven and will come out just the way you want it: juicy, medium rare and full of flavor.
And what better accompaniment to the steak than our summery tomato, avocado and onion salad. 
You have a winner here!
Throw in freshly harvested sweet corn on the cob and you have a feast.
As for the coffee, select a medium roast. 
Anything finer will likely burn and anything thicker may be a little crunchy. 
I picked an unusual coffee from Balzac that is called the Atwood Blend, named for Margaret Atwood and some proceeds from which go to benefit the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.
You may wish to stick with what you know.  The original recipe from Guy Fieri from whom I have freely borrowed this recipe calls for Italian Roast.
I noticed the version he prepared on television differed from his written version as well. 
On TV he added honey to the stout instead of brown sugar.  This is not unusual — that is, recipes often differ from one place to another because they are in a constant state of development.
 If you would like to add honey to the stout instead of the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, have at it.  I prefer the molasses influence of the brown sugar myself.

Coffee Coated Strip Steaks

Ingredients
•    1/2 cup medium grind Italian Roast coffee
•    1/2 cup black peppercorns, freshly cracked
•    1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
•    1/4 cup kosher salt
•    1/4 cup granulated garlic
•    11/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
•    11/2 tablespoons paprika
•    4 (1 1/2 to 2-inch) thick New York strip steaks
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    16 ounces stout
•    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine coffee, peppercorns, 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, garlic, cayenne pepper and paprika in a small bowl. Press firmly onto steaks. Let steaks rest, covered, for 30 minutes at room temperature.
To cook, heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add steaks and sear 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan.
Use 2 pans if needed. Remove steaks to a baking dish, or just place your ovenproof skillet in the oven and finish cooking until desired doneness. The pros test for doneness by pressing the meat for resilience.
You may wish to use meat thermometer until you get the hang of that. With medium rare — 130 °F core temperature —  the steak will have a fully red, warm center.
This is the standard degree of cooking at most steakhouses, Remove to a cutting board or platter and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, bring stout to a simmer in a small saucepan and reduce by about 1/3.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. After steaks have rested, pour any juices from the cutting board into the sauce, and serve with steaks.

Tomato, Onion, Avocado Salad

Ingredients

• 4 fresh large tomatoes, sliced
• 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, so you can read a newspaper through the slices, if anyone takes a newspaper any more
• 2 avocados, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• Red wine vinegar (a good, strong red wine vinegar)
• Extra virgin olive oil (the best quality)
• Coarse Sea Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:
Place a layer of sliced tomatoes on a large serving platter. Arrange the slices of red onions and the chunks of avocado over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with parsley, garlic, and oregano.
Drizzle red wine vinegar and olive oil over the platter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Do not refrigerate. 
This is a last minute preparation so prepare just before you plan to serve.
Luckily it is simple to do. 
Just have all the components at hand and you can put it together in a flash while the steak is resting.  Not all kitchen preparations are do-ahead. 
This is one of those.  Your guests will appreciate the freshness — and what a wonderful use of the season’s tomatoes!

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Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law.
He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco.
 He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges.
 

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