Rib Eye Steaks with Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes and Honey Balsamic Drizzle

Confession:  the title of this post was originally, “Tuscan Rib Eye Steaks with Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes, Balsamic Drizzle and Braised White Beans with Spinach“. I decided not to subject you to the whole thing in one go.  There is also a possibility that I’m taking the low road and only giving you half of what we had for dinner on Saturday, because I don’t have the vigor to attach text to 20 pictures tonight.  But hey – good news!  If you’re dying to know about more ways to use those tinned beans in your cupboard, tomorrow WILL BE your day!

As far as winter weather goes, I really have no complaints this year.  There have been a few vigorous dumps of snow on the ground, a couple of days which were cold enough to freeze the ears off a brass monkey (content cleaned because, sadly, my mother reads this blog), but for the most part it’s just been gray skies and cranky people.  Most recently, the sky has been snickering as it raises a leg and douses us with cold and clammy winter rain. It snakes into your collar and down the small of your back before you can holler, “I SAID OPEN THE G.D. DOOR, DUDE!  CHRIST, IT’S FRIGGIN’ FREEZING OUT HERE!!! Whoops….wrong house.  Sorry, ma’am. The winter rain is always threatening to freeze, turning your driveway into a skating rink as you step outside and coast slowly into the oncoming traffic.  It reminds you that yes, you DID say that it was time to buy new boots last week, and possibly some socks that don’t play a peep show.  More importantly, however, the cold and drizzle has made me crave meat.

Rib Eye Steaks with Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes and Honey Balsamic Drizzle

Serves 4

Rib Eye Steaks with Balsamic Drizzle:

  • 4 rib eye steaks, each 3/4″ thick
  • 2 tsp olive oil (from tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Olive Oil Poached Tomatoes

  • 2.5 cups cherry tomato
  • 1 cup olive oil, or enough to cover
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large 5″ sprig rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)

Just pretend that the left half of that picture doesn’t exist.  Oh, except for the meat, because mama likes hers rare.  Yes, and maybe ignore the spinach on the right.  Perhaps we should disregard this picture altogether, unless you were looking for a sneak peek into what will inevitably be my next post:  more beans.

Preheat your oven to 300ºF.

Wash the tomatoes and put them in a small casserole dish which is just big enough to hold them snugly.  Peel the garlic cloves and bruise them lightly with the flat side of your knife.  Nestle the rosemary and garlic in amongst the tomatoes and pour the olive oil over top.  Depending on the size of your dish you might need slightly less or slightly more oil, but as long as the tomatoes are mostly covered (they don’t need to be drowning) that’s ideal.

Cover the dish with a lid (or tin foil, in a pinch) and tuck it into the center of your oven for about 30 minutes.  If the tomatoes are just barely peeping their little red heads up through the oil, give them a quick turn over half way through. The tomatoes are perfectly poached when the skins are blistered, bubbling and can be easily whisked off with just one tug.  Be sure to wait until the tomatoes cool slightly before skinning them, because that oil sure is hot.  Even Old Asbestos Finger Tina let loose with a smattering of salty hollers after getting impatient and boldly reaching in when the steam was still hanging in the air.

As soon as the tomatoes go into the oven take your meat out of the fridge so that it can come to room temperature.  Graciously salt and pepper both sides of the steaks.

Turn the heat up to 450ºF as soon as the tomatoes are out.  Put a large cast iron (or heat proof) pan in the center of the oven to heat for at least 15-20 minutes. Most pans, even your larger ones, will only be big enough to hold 2 steaks at a time without overcrowding.  That’s okay, they cook up fast so you can do them in shifts.

Discard the rosemary and garlic from the oil and carefully slip the skinned tomatoes back inside their warm bath until you’re ready to plate.  Show some mercy when you handle the tomatoes, because when they’re all naked and blushing the poor babes are fairly fragile.

Rub 1/2 teaspoon of the scented oil onto each one of the steaks, being sure to lube up both the front and back.  When your pan gets dangerously hot, turn on one of your elements to high heat in preparation.  If you have a gas stove (lucky duck) the pre-heating of the element isn’t as important, but for those of us with sub-par electric units who spend 15 minutes trying to boil water, getting the circuit hot in advance is a benefit.

Carefully lift the pan out of the oven and put it on your hot burner.  Lay down two steaks at a time, being sure that they aren’t touching.  Let the steaks sear for 30-45 seconds on each side before removing them to a plate or baking tray while you do the other two.  The quick sear is to seal in the juices and build up a nice caramelization  on the outside, which brings out the naturally robust and beefy flavor of tender rib eye.

Put the steaks in the oven and let them cook for 1 or more minutes per side until you have reached your desired degree of cooking.  I’m a lusty omnivore who likes her steak bloody and rare, sometimes even bordering on blue.  To that end, I’ll keep my steaks in the oven for only about 1 minute per side.  If you were opting for a medium rare you would want to increase that to almost, but not quite, two minutes per side.  Add about 45 seconds more for each rung that you climb in the ladder of doneness.

When the meat is just slightly less done than you like (it will continue cooking when it comes off the heat), remove the steaks from your pan or sheet and tent them loosely with tin foil. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes as you prepare the sauce.

Put the balsamic vinegar and honey into a small pot or wee baby sauce pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, whisking regularly, and let it reduce by 1/3.  This will take 5-8 minutes.  Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the salted butter, cut into 3-4 chunks.  Stir the mixture until the butter is melted and the sauce is glossy.

Plate the steaks by drizzling 1-2 tablespoons of sauce over each one and gently crowning with a few of those luscious poached tomatoes.

I’ve been making (albeit not posting) more lighter fare at home lately.  More vegetarian and vegan entrees, fish and light broths have been dancing through my kitchen.  Yet I make a meal like this, a luscious and juicy rib eye lounging soulfully on a tangy dark velveteen sauce, and I truly wonder why.  A good steak is always the catalyst for something carnivorous inside me to begin to growl and bay.  On Sunday night I meant to make a salad, but instead stewed 5 pounds of oxtail.  Damn you, delicious beef.  Damn you anyways.

As for the tomatoes, if you happen to have any left over they glisten like jewels on top of a home made macaroni and cheese.  They’re also delightful pressed into a grilled crostini that has been rubbed with fresh garlic and touched with just a pulse of parmiggiano.  There is also breaded eggplant tucked under the broiler with some fresh buffalo mozzarella and topped with a few ruby reds and a sprinkling of fresh basil…..okay, seriously, I could do this all day.

Steak: you don’t need a barbecue to have a bloody good time.

In retrospect, although this was exactly what the doctor ordered, I wish that I had held off for just a few more weeks.  This has Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner (squee!) written all over it. I might not be one for flowers and romance, but this steak says “I love you” six ways to Sunday.  And I wasted it.  Now I’ll be saying, “I love you” with a heart shaped quinoa cake.  Sigh.

  • deb

    Please check this entry; I think something is missing re: instructions for poaching tomatoes. I’m going to try this for Valentines, and don’t want to screw it up! Thanks, mucho!

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Deb – Poaching the tomatoes is as easy as can be, I promise! I took a look at the post and you’re right – I deleted that section along with the bean pictures. Whoops! All corrected now, and thanks for the heads’ up! I hope you and your sweetie enjoy this 🙂

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

    I cannot imagine circumstances under which a heart-shaped quinoa cake can say, “I Love You.”

  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com lo

    You’re absolutely right about the V-day quotient. Seriously high for this dish. But then, I’m a sucker for a great (rare) steak.

    Olive oil poaching those winter cherry tomatoes is brilliant, really. On top of all of the other options you’ve provided, I’ll bet those would be perfect atop one of our artichoke a la mode pizzas… slam dunk.

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  • http://www.erikorganic.com/dining-room/dining-room-table.shtml dining room tables

    This is one perfect dish! I hope I can make this perfect! I am going to try this one.

  • Matt Duhamel

    So I made this dish but I burned the sauce. When you said boil I brought it to a bubble – I thought the honey would burn but I trusted your instructions. 5 minutes later it was burnt.

    Did you mean a simmer for the reduction?

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Matt – thank you for trying this recipe and for the great online review at Mark’s Daily Apple! Now then, let’s talk about the sauce. I did mean a standard boil, which is halfway between a simmering bubble and a rolling boil. If you have a more powerful stove (or even an average gas stove will still be superior to my hunk of junk) you could reach this point much faster than I do, and the liquid will reduce in less time. That’s fine, use your eyes as a guide. Also, if your pot is not wee (think of a 2 cup volume, max) then the sauce will be thin and have significantly more surface area over the heat, which means that the cooking will happen rapidly and you’ll really need to keep an eye on things. There’s that, too.

      When sugars caramelize they actually lose some of their perceived sweetness and get a pleasant nutty bitterness. The honey should not burn, but it should darken (although that’s almost impossible to see visually because of the balsamic) and develop a richer flavor like good caramel. Remember though that you’re the one making and eating this meal, so if you don’t like that flavor and prefer light, sweet honey, you could always reduce the balsamic on it’s own for a few minutes (in this case, I would double the amount of all ingredients in the sauce and it will actually be easier to manage) and then stir in the honey and butter to serve.