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Monday, May 5, 2008

A Yummy Cinco de Mayo: Chipotle-Grilled Bone-in Beef Ribeye with Roasted Poblano & Vanilla-scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Chunky Mango-Feta Salsa

America is a great place!
Especially if you're a food lover. 
Because of our multi-cultural society, a smorgasbord of culinary verisimilitude from all over the world, there is always a reason to celebrate; always a day on the calendar that encourages us to partake in other countries' days of festivities and (more importantly for gluttons like moi)partake of their comestibles.

One of these days seems to be May 5th or Cinco de Mayo as guacamole lovers everywhere like to call it. Now why a minor battle for a pueblo in Mexico should capture the imagination of Corona lovers all across the good old United States of America might be an interesting story but I can't seem to find any real corroborative evidence, so, your guess is as good as mine! In fact, when I lived there a few years ago, one of the questions Mexican locals always asked me was why we Gringos in the U.S. celebrated it as a national holiday, when no one in Mexico did, outside of that one small pueblo which won its battle. I had no good answer for them.

You would think the date for Mexican Independence, September 16th, would be a more likely candidate for celebration but maybe it's too close to Labor Day & the beginning of the school term for parents who have small children & don't want two weekends of back to back hangovers. Don't know, maybe.

Maybe, too, it has become a rite of Spring. I mean, it falls after Easter (whose weather can still be pretty hairy depending on what part of the country you live in) and before Memorial Day and people may just be hankering for any excuse to finally get out into the lovely warm weather of early May, enjoy their gardens or patios and start to practice their grilling to be in good form for the big Memorial Day weekend!

Add a few margaritas, nachos & Pacificos into the mix &, baby, Cinco de Mayo seems like a godsend for those who have been couped up because of those April showers!

Fajitas & quesadillas are a nice way to go; but, nothing says celebration to me like a good steak dinner, ranchero-style!

See what I mean? Thick, juicy, steak... yum! yum!

So go grab a movie the hubby (mine) would recommend to inspire eating this meal like "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!" with the iconic Clint Eastwood, (undisputed king of the great Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns) pull up a tree stump & picture yourself eating this steak dinner around the campfire with that man of mystery whose steely-eyed glint spawned a thousand imitations but none better than the original.

What a man!

My husband now wants me to prepare our steaks like this every time. The adobo -marinated chipotles provide a little heat & smokiness , not much but just enough to give the meat a real depth of flavor that no other seasonings ever have for me. It was a spur of the moment inspiration that is destined to become a classic in my home. My hubby does not like too much innovation where steak & potatoes are concerned but he flipped over this preparation which is really simple.

It really is a great meal for any time of the year!
Of course, the hubby gets the bone & meaty rib part (too fatty, I guess...) & I get the "eye" (much leaner); but I'm wondering.... am I getting hornswoggled? Help, Clint, help!!!!

Here are your ingredients, all assembled and ready:

For the Chipotle-marinated Ribeye:

For the Chunky Mango Salsa:

For the Roasted Poblano Vanilla scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes:

Here are the cutest little new baby sweet potatoes I found at the market. The scale is hard to really show, but you can see some of them are not too much larger than that tiny little lime. Since they are so small they roast in the same amount of time & in the same baking sheet as the poblano chile in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Let's Cook:

Chipotle-Grilled Bone in Ribeye with Poblano & Vanilla-scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Chunky Mango-Feta Salsa

Note: The recipe sounds impressive, but, in fact, it is just an assembly of ingredients that are key to the success of this dish. It's pretty typical of the kind of meal you'll find at one of the more exclusive high end luxury resort restaurants in Los Cabos like Las Ventanas Grille, Pitahayas, Palmilla. (Lived at Palmilla for 9 glorious months, a few years back, miss it!). All you need is a little chill-out music which were the tunes of choice there and a glass of rioja (or a frosty margarita on ice with good tequila & lots of lime) and you'll feel like you're sitting by the Sea of Cortez.

The chipotles are key & canned in adobo. Now, those of you have read this blog know that I am anti-processed foods and yes, you can take the dried chipotles and marinade them in your own tomatoey (is that a word??) adobo sauce BUTthis product, Embasa Chipotle Peppers in adobo sauce is pretty pure & free of the usual preservatives you find in canned goods but user beware a little goes a looong way. I've provided the link for you but you should be able to pick it up at Safeway or some other national grocery chain . Even Whole Foods carries it, occasionally (or am I dreaming that they will?).

The poblanos are easy to find, if you choose to substitute them with another chili remember this golden rule: the larger the chili the milder, the smaller the chili the hotter. Please don't use serranos or habaneros as a substitute but don't go the other way & use green peppers either. If you can't find the dark green poblanos then use Anaheims a.k.a. California chiles or, if you must, a very large jalapeno.We roast them in the same pan we roast the sweet potatoes.

Here's a great online resource for everything about substituting chiles (or any other ingredient):
The Cooks Thesaurus.

The grapeseed oil is a great neutral flavored oil for high heat cooking, if you don't have it, you can substitute other vegetable oil, BUT DO NOT USE extra-virgin olive oil. It will breakdown & burn in high heat which will ruin the flavor of your steak & waste your money & time, comprende amigos?

I also avoid the use of fresh garlic in the marinade for the same reason.
It will burn and add an unpleasant acrid taste to your dish.
If you NEED to add it, do so, but make sure you scrape every little bit of that garlic off before you grill the steak. Because of my kitchen's limitations, I use a Le Creuset grill pan to grill the steak. If you have a regular grill go for it. Just be sure to heat the grill, either way.

This recipe serves 2 Clint Eastwood wannabes.

For the Chipotle marinated ribeye:

1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely minced into a paste
1 teaspoon of adobo sauce
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil, if you don't have grapeseed oil substitute another neutral flavored high flash point oil
1 2-inch thick bone-in ribeye about 1-1/4 lbs to 1-1/2 lbs (you'll have leftovers that will make a yummy fajita salad for lunch)freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste (go light on the salt, the adobo sauce has a good amount of sodium)
For the Roasted Poblano, Vanilla-scented Smashed Sweet Potatoes:

6 small whole baby yams, washed thoroughly dried, skin on, punctured with a knife to vent the steam

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut half length-wise & then into large chunks

1 large whole poblano chile, washed & thoroughly dried & left whole
1 teaspoon of high quality vanilla extract
2 stalks of green garlic, chopped (seasonal for Spring, substitute with scallions or green onions at other times of the year)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (Plugra rocks!)
1/4 cup skim milk
1/8 - 1/4 cup half & half
1/8 cup chicken of beef stock (optional)

For the chunky mango-feta salsa

1 large ripe mango, cut into large dice (remember we want this to be chunky)
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced length-wise or cut into roughly the same size as the mango dice
the juice from half a lime
a handful of fresh cilantro, leaves only, finely minced2 tablespoons of green garlic, finely minced (substitute with 1 scallion a.k.a. green onion & 1/2 a garlic clove, if green garlic is out of season)
2 inch chunk of feta, chopped


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees (and the grill, if unlike me, you are using a gas grill). Make sure you have removed your steak from the refrigerator an hour before grilling it. It will make for faster, more even grilling. & allow you to marinate it.

2) Prepare the marinade for the steak:
In a small mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients well with a whisk. Then place steal in a Ziploc bag large enough to hold the steak & pour the marinade on top of it, sealing the bag but removing as much of the air from it as you can. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the steak from the outside of the bag & set aside. Don't leave the steak in the marinade for longer than an hour; it will change the texture & flavor for the worst, making it more like a cured beef. Not what you want to do with an excellent cut of beef.

3) While the meat marinates, roast the whole baby (or the large chunks of  skin-on) sweet potatoes  & the poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet after seasoning them with a little salt & pepper and placing the baking sheet in the top rack of the oven for 15-18 minutes until poblano is charred (you may need to turn the poblano once half-way through the roasting process) and the baby (or cut) sweet potatoes are soft. Then remove from oven, place poblano in a  clean dish towel or wrapped in paper towels to allow the steam to soften the skin & make it easier to remove. Leave the oven on but lower it to 350 degrees. Set aside while you prepare the mango salsa.

4) Prepare the mango salsa by first preparing your ingredients then combining well all the prepared ingredients (except the feta) in a glass serving bowl. When you have combined all the veggies, add the feta and gently fold it in careful not to break the feta up into pieces that are too small. Season with a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper & very judicious use of salt (the feta is really salty enough) &  toss gently. Set aside until ready to plate.

5) Heat the grill pan (which is hopefully a Le Creuset & no, they don't pay me a dime, dammit) over medium high heat. Turn on the range hood fan & open the windows, if you're cooking inside. While the pan heats up, remove the skin from your poblano chile & chop it into a fine almost, paste-like dice. Then be sure to prep all the ingredients for your smashed potatoes. Chop the green garlic (or regular garlic  & scallions, if substituting) & set aside the butter, half & half, skim milk, & stock if you're using it.

6) Cook steak: (now these directions are for a bone-in ribeye that weighs about 2 lbs. & is 2" thick, if you have a steak that is boneless and/or thinner then you have to adjust and cook the steak for less time per side for medium rare)
When the grill is hot, remove the steak from it's marinade, scraping off the excess & place in the center of the pan. Do not touch that steak for 5 minutes. Leave it alone. Take a sip of wine.
After 5 minutes, using heavy tongs, lift the steak & give it a 1/4 turn counter-clockwise, leaving it on the same side to give it those nice crosshatched  grill marks, you always admire in steak houses. allow the steak to cook for an additional 5 minutes without touching it, but do turn down the heat if it seems to be getting too smoky. Repeat process on other side.

**** Word to the wise**** 
The marinade makes the kitchen a bit toxic once the cooking starts so have those windows & doors wide open & ready, if you cook inside & don't want to set off the smoke detector. The steak will not taste too spicy, I assure you but smoky flavor will be imparted & is delish.

6) After 20 minutes, check steak for doneness by either using a food thermometer placed in the center of the steak in both depth & width, away from the bone (120-125 degrees for medium rare before resting) or by using the touch test if you are a more experienced cook (using your index finger to test the springyness of the meat, it should have the same feeling of resistance to prodding as the pad of skin on your palm beneath your thumb for medium rare).

If the steak is still underdone, place it  & the grill pan in the center rack of the oven, testing for doneness every few minutes until it is done to your liking.
There really is no other way. You can smell when it's done & feel when it's done but you cannot place a definitive time for cooking it. You just have to be vigilant & cook a lot of steaks. Not a bad way to practice!

After the steak is done, let it rest in a warm spot & prepare the smashed sweet potatoes.

7) Prepare sweet potatoes:
Place a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat, add butter & green garlic (or garlic-scallion combo) with 1/8 teaspoon of salt heat until butter melts,  stirring occasionally until garlic wilts. Lower heat to medium low.
Then add poblano chile, stir it in to heat & release its aroma, add skim milk, stock and half & half until warm, then add vanilla; finally, add sweet potatoes & coarsely mash with a potato masher or large fork until potatoes reach your desired texture. 
Taste potato mixture & adjust for seasoning (salt & pepper) to taste. Add more butter or liquid as desired. You're in control of the texture & consistency. Turn off heat when potatoes are done to your liking.

8) Slice steak, carving out the bone, into portions for two. (You can fight over who gets the bone) 
Serve on warm plates (stick them in the microwave or oven for a minute) with potatoes & salsa.


xilinxchic said...

Where can I find the recipe?

The Gourmet Chronicles said...

I'm so sorry... I've been neglecting this blog!

The recipe is in my head. I will write it out today.

Many of my recipes are just improvised on the spot, I'm afraid, because I use ingredients and simple techniques that time and experience tell me will work together.

I've recently started blogging on MySpace and I think I've been way too obsessed with my blogs there. Probably because people actually do comment on the blogs which makes it exciting but I love this blog & MySpace is having lots of technical difficulties lately so I think I'll start posting more here again!

Wow, long answer for such a short question! ;D

Thanks for asking.

Lori Gomez said...

Well, it took a while, but I finally did update this blog with my recipes.