Gourmet (August 2008)
When we went out to the farm for u-pick tomatoes, cherry tomatoes were also available. These tomatoes were amazing -- sweet, addicting and delicious right off the vine. We quickly picked a bag of them.
Some of the tomatoes were consumed on the way home (even though it was 8 a.m.), but most were used in salads. With so many great cherry tomatoes at our disposal, we decided to cook Gourmet's July cover recipe.
We cook steak fairly often and do so very straightforwardly -- most often on the grill, and sometimes indoors using a grill pan. We don't typically dress them up or add a lot of toppings. Our experience cooking Flank Steak with Tamarind Glaze and Orange Gremolata (if you haven't yet tried it, give it a go -- it's fantastic) in early summer was very positive, but didn't spur us to start making toppings for our steak.
These tomatoes, though, were inspiring, so we decided to give it a go. This recipe is basic, taking advantage of summer flavors, with cherry tomatoes, thyme and basil.
The steak gets seared to the desired doneness and then rests while you briefly cook the garlic, tomatoes and herbs.
The result is one terrific steak dish. The porterhouse gets this amazing char that plays perfectly off the spicy sweetness of the tomatoes and the garlic. The basil and thyme wrap the whole thing in a blanket of piquant sweet heat.
As the recipe notes, try not to overcook the tomatoes. It's best when they're broken down just enough to get juicy, but they still maintain enough freshness to pop and burst in your mouth.
For such a delicious meal with a real depth of flavors, it's a very easy recipe to make. In fact, it only takes about 6 minutes more than preparing a simple, unadorned steak.
And this is a great way to capture the soon-to-be-fleeting flavors of late summer.
Active time: 35 min
Start to finish: 45 min
Delivering a lot of summer glamour for very little work, this gorgeous dish balances the baritone flavor and fat of the steak with the tomatoes’ coloratura acidity. Take care not to overcook the tomatoes—they should be in the hot pan just long enough to release some of their juices, which create a natural sauce for the steak.
* 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 2 (1 1/2-inch-thick) porterhouse steaks (about 1 3/4 lb each)
* 4 teaspoons kosher salt
* 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
* 4 (1/2-pint) containers mixed cherry tomatoes
* 6 large thyme sprigs
* 1 1/2 cups coarsely torn basil leaves
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
Meanwhile, pat steaks dry and sprinkle with kosher salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper.
Sear steaks 1 at a time, turning once, until well browned, about 10 minutes total per steak. Transfer steaks to a shallow baking pan (do not clean skillet) and cook in oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of steaks registers 120ºF for medium-rare, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let stand 15 minutes.
While steaks stand, pour off oil from skillet. Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté garlic until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add tomatoes and thyme to hot oil (be careful; oil will spatter), then lightly season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, just until tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in any meat juices from platter, then scatter basil over tomatoes and spoon over steaks.