Last year, I saw a recipe in Saveur for a grilled chili and shallot condiment meant to accompany steak. “Ooh, tasty!” I thought, then I promptly put the magazine into the drawer of no return, a.k.a. the place I put magazines I someday intend to clip the recipes from. Someday, like, if I ever come down with an illness that leaves me bedridden for a month, because at this point, I’m so backed up nothing less than invalidism will give me time enough to do it.
I hadn’t thought about the recipe in months when I bought a huge ribeye steak on sale and needed to think of something to do with it. I knew I’d sear in it my trusty iron skillet and divide it between Stephen and myself, but what should I do to guild the lily? I’d nearly made up my mind to whip up a batch of Stilton-Shallot butter when I remembered the recipe from Saveur, and went for a dig through the magazine drawer.
Lacking a grill, I roasted the chilies and shallots on the hot iron skillet. I laid the ribeye slices on a bed of spinach, arugula, and slices radishes sprinkles with sherry vinegar, and spooned some of the chilies over, letting the oil drip down to dress the greens.
Stephen and i found the results yummy, but it was, how rarely do I say this, almost too spicy for us. Perhaps we aren’t the chili-heads we think we are, or maybe it’s that I bought the chilies at a Mexican produce market thus was in over my head, but this simple condiment was a challenge. Thinking they were just jalapenos, I retained most of the seeds and ribs, and I left the peppers in fairly large pieces. Even with the strong flavors of the beef and greens, and the relief from an icy glass of hefeweizen, we still ended up with pink cheeks and runny noses and a burn that just wouldn’t quit.
Still, we liked it enough to want to make it again, with perhaps some slight variations. Next time, I think I’ll up the ratio of chilies to shallots for a little more onion-y sweetness and a little less heat. I’ll also chop of the chilies and shallots more finely so that it’s easier to control how much you get per bite. I added a bit sherry vinegar and sugar to the original recipe, hoping to balance the heat, and I’ll use even more when I make this again. I like the idea of it as a spicy and slightly tart relish.
This doesn’t require a recipe, but I’ll give both what I made, and how I’ll make it next time.
For the brave (my first attempt):
Char 4-6 red chilies (I used ones that looked like large, red jalapenos but were rather hotter) and 2 shallots on a grill or iron skillet over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft and moderately black on the outside. Peel the shallots (and the chilies if they have thick skin), and slice 1/4-1/3 inch thick. Season with salt, pour over 3 tablespoons good olive oil, 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Let stand for at least on hour.
For the slightly less brave (what I think I’ll do next):
Char 4 red chilies and 4 shallots as above. Roughly chop, add salt, and dress with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, and a 1/2-1 teaspoon sugar.