Time to break out the grill

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks With Spicy Chipotle-Tomato Sauce

May 02, 1999|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

After months of cold, wintry weather, spring is a much-awaited change in New England where I live. Everyone seems to be in a good mood as the temperature starts to rise and the sun remains in the sky until late into evening. And, for those of us who love to cook, this is the season when we can pull out our grills and move our kitchens outdoors once again.

At the earliest hint of spring, I plan meals that can be cooked over hot coals. Grilling seems to impart an extra layer of flavor to all manner of foods. This year I was especially pleased with a new dish created for my first grill meal. I seared rib eye steaks until just pink inside, then topped them with a spicy tomato-chipotle sauce.

The steaks, rubbed with a mixture of cumin, salt and pepper, took only minutes to cook and were delicious paired with the quick sauce seasoned with chipotles, which are smoked jalapeno peppers.

Although I made this grilled entree for a family meal, I plan to use it again in the next few weeks when we invite friends over for a porch supper. To go with the steaks, polenta (cut into triangles and grilled) and a salad of spinach and sliced avocados tossed in an orange vinaigrette would make fine side dishes. A bowl of fresh strawberries served with scoops of good store-bought lemon sorbet could complete the offerings.

Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Spicy Chipotle-Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

SAUCE:

3 dried chipotle peppers, each about 3 inches long (see Note)

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onions

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 of 28-ounce can Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (see Note)

1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher salt, plus more if needed

STEAKS:

4 boneless rib eye or Delmonico steaks, 1/2 inch thick and 6 to 7 ounces each, trimmed of all fat

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 teaspoons chopped cilantro

To prepare sauce, place chipotle peppers in small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak until peppers have softened, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove peppers from water, but strain and reserve water for making sauce. Wearing rubber gloves, halve peppers lengthwise and scrape out and discard all seeds and stems. (Seeds are what make these peppers so hot. Removing them will result in a spicy, rather than a fiery, hot dish.) Chop seeded peppers and measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons. Discard any extras or use in another dish.

Heat oil in medium heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onions and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add garlic and chopped chipotles and cook and stir 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, reserved soaking water and salt. Bring to simmer and cook, uncovered, until most, but not quite all, of liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, when ready to use.)

Thirty minutes before you plan to cook steaks, combine cumin, salt and pepper in small bowl. Rub both sides of each steak with seasoning and leave at cool room temperature while you prepare grill.

Arrange rack 5 inches from heat source, oil rack and preheat grill. Grill steaks 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Watch carefully, as cooking time will vary depending on type of grill and intensity of heat. Alternatively, broil steaks 4 to 5 inches from heat 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Arrange steaks on serving plate and top each with some sauce. Sprinkle each steak with cilantro.

Note: Chipotle peppers are sold either dried or in sauce. Buy dried ones for this recipe. They are available in specialty food stores and in some groceries. Also, because you will not need to use 1 entire can of tomatoes, freeze the extra amount and use in another recipe.

Pub Date: 05/02/99

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