Tri-tip steak with a brussel sprout and pancetta side (and grilled corn! and tomato/cucumber salad!)

We eat a lot of grilled corn around these parts. Especially in the summer. It is a specialty of Hubs and often requested by friends and our extended family.

Our lovely au pair has family in town this month and, on the night her best friend arrived, we invited him to join us for dinner. I found a lovely looking tri-tip steak at the local natural food store, too. We also had some brussel sprouts and pancetta that was reaching its life limit. And, as said before, our tomatoes are abundant. With that, a meal was made.

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Ingredients:

The steak

  • one large tri-tip steak
  • soy sauce (about a 1/2 cup)
  • hoisin (two tablespoons)
  • tomato paste (about a tablespoon)
  • worchestshire sauce (about a tablespoon)
  • sesame oil (one tablespoon)
  • rice wine vinegar (one tablespoon)
  • brown sugar (two tablespoons)
  • lime zest
  • salt/pepper
  • lime juice (one lime)
  • grated fresh ginger (about one inch of a knob)

The brussel sprouts

  • one cup of cubed pancetta
  • one pound of brussel sprouts, ends cut off, outer leaves removed and cut in half
  • half of a vidalia onion, cut against the grain
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic
  • toasted pine nuts

The corn

  • as many ears of corn for as many people you have
  • one lime per four ears
  • sprinkling of salt

Tomato/cucumber salad

  • tomatoes from the garden, cut into rough chunks
  • two cucumbers peeled and cut into one inch chunks
  • basil to taste
  • balsamic to taste
  • salt/pepper

In a large glass baking dish, whisk all ingredients for the marinade (everything but the steak). Once thoroughly mixed, add the steak, fat side up, and let it sit, covered for as long as possible. Flip halfway through the amount of time you have available. I didn’t have too much time (about an hour) but it was still enough to get the flavors intermingled.

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While that marinates, cut your brussel sprouts and onion. In a saute pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or grapeseed) and add the onions. When softening, add the pancetta and cook until done. Take them out of the pan with a slotted spoon (leaving as much of their grease as possible) and put them on a paper towel to drain.

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Add in the cut sprouts, cut side down and let that cook until the cut side is browning. When you see a bit of brown, add a splash of wine and a splash of balsamic and mix until all are covered.  Once the sprouts are cooked, add the pancetta and onions back in to the sprouts. This is often best if it has been sitting for a bit in the pan, letting the flavors meld together. Heat up in the pan right before serving.

When ready to cook the tri-tip, turn on your grill to the lower temperature setting. You will use the burners for the corn and the steak will be on indirect heat, on the rack above. Grill the steak on the upper rack for 15 minutes on each side with the lid closed. When the internal temperature (using an insta-read) reaches 135, take it off and let it sit covered in tin foil for 15 minutes more.  While the steak is resting, turn the heat up on grill and put the corn on. Turn only when the kernels begin to char. When charred on all sides (about 15 minutes, but maybe quicker depending on the corn), squeeze a lime over the corn and sprinkle with parmesan.

Chop the tomatoes and cucumber and mix with basil and balsamic, salt and pepper. Turn the heat up high on the sprouts to quickly heat through. Add the pine nuts now (otherwise they can get soggy).  Slice the steak into thin slices and serve!  This tri-tip was so good that we made it again a few days later.

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Ranch Salad

One of my favorite meals and one of the easiest things I make is what I call “Ranch Salad.” It reminds me of Ranch dressing…though I don’t use that dressing on the salad. Maybe it is the crisp, chopped veggies? Anyway, it is super yummy and crazy easy.

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • 3 Persian cucumbers
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/2 cup of frozen roasted corn
  • half of an avocado
  • bag of fresh spinach leaves
  • French vinaigrette dressing

Clean and chop the cucumbers, carrots, onion, avocado, tomatoes and spinach. Put in a bowl with a splash of the dressing.

In a sauté pan, heat the frozen corn until warmed through. Add to bowl.

Cut the chicken off the carcass and chop into 1 inch pieces. In the now empty sauté pan over medium high heat, toss a teaspoon of butter, the chopped chicken and a few teaspoons of the vinaigrette and heat until warm.

To serve, spoon the veggies into bowls and top with the chicken and some more dressing. I had a few teaspoons of pine nuts left over from last night so I tossed them in and, trying a new product, we finished it with a bit of Onion Crunch. This stuff added the perfect crunch to the salad.

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Easy grillin’ sides and a leftover lunch

On Saturday we had a going away party for our German au pair whose one year stint is over and heads home this coming Sunday. We had her invite her best au pair friends over and had a traditional all-american bbq with burgers and brats, a few bottles of napa wine, some american beer, corn hole and boy bands on the sonos.  Knowing that Anne is one the no-carb bandwagon with us, we also wanted to add in some yummy and healthy sides.

The first dish was a good ol’ plain salad: spring lettuce mix, chopped carrots, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes with M’s favorite homemade dressing (olive oil, balsamic, mustard, plain yogurt, salt/pepper and a squeeze of lemon). 

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I then grilled up some sliced cremini mushrooms on our indoor grill pan. I used the indoor grill pan as opposed to the grill outside that we would be using later because mushrooms are small, yo. I wanted the grill marks but not for them to be inside the grill. I heated up the grill pan, placed the mushrooms flat on the pan without overlapping, drizzled some good olive oil over the top and some salt and pepper and let them brown. Once they started to get grill marks, I flipped them over and let them cook for a bit more. Once they were softening, I put them into a pile in the middle and squeezed on some of my favorite reduced balsamic glaze and then coated them evenly. I kept on repeating this process, transferring the cooked mushrooms into a bowl, until I had cooked enough for 15 people (which ended up being about 25 mushrooms). 

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My favorite dish of the bunch, though, was my corn salad. I made a variation of this for Thanksgiving last year and it was a hit. And it is SOOOO easy. Once again I used my favorite roasted TJ’s frozen corn. Poured a bag of it into a deep saute pan and let it defrost for a bit. While that was cooking down a bit, I ran down to my herb garden and grabbed a bunch of basil and oregano. I cleaned those bad boys up, dried them a bit and chopped them finely (a basic chiffonade is fine for both). The corn was getting warm so I added some salt and pepper, threw in a pint of cherry tomatoes, 3/4 cup of feta (reserving the last 1/4 cup until serving), a dash of red pepper flakes and the chopped herbs and cooked them down, stirring frequently as the feta can melt and burn if it isn’t being watched/stirred. At the very end, just before serving, add the rest of the feta. 

ImageA variation on this that is a bit more indulgent and that I will be making next week for a Cinco De Mayo party is what I call Mexi-corn. I use queso fresca in addition to the feta, a sh*t ton of cilantro, a bit of cumin (maybe a teaspoon), 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt and I up the red pepper flakes a teeny bit. 

I’ve also make it in a savory version as well that has browned yellow onions, is cooked in a half cup of white wine, uses marjoram and thyme and cuts the tomatoes so that the juices meld into the flavor of the mash. 

Overall, the sides were well received and the night was a success! I recommend a rose to go with the summery corn dish, too. Holy yum.

Not all of the salad was eaten that night…and as I had people dress their salads on their plates, I was able to save what was left for lunch for the next day. To give the greens and veggies some heft, I heated up some delicious chicken sausage, cut into disks, and cooked them with sliced red onion. 

ImageI topped the lettuce and random veg with this tasty concoction and sprinkled them with hulled sunflower seeds.  I didn’t cook the sausage or onion with any oil so I used the fond on the bottom of the pan to make a fantastic dressing. I tossed some of that leftover rose into the pan, loosened up the fond, added a splash of olive oil, a splash of regular balsamic, a bit of salt and pepper, a tablespoon of plain yogurt and a tablespoon of spicy, horseradish mustard. Mixed it all up with a whisk and spooned it over the salad. It was awesome.

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