Where’s The Beef – Seared Steak with Fig Caramelized Onions

Only dofstoyefsky could dream up a pair like us

-HaHa Tonka
So apparently I have started collecting all of Dogfish Head’s various special brews. Incase I have not yet mentioned it, Columbia fails! Its so sad how excited I get to go to a city that has a Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and/or sells Dogfish Head. Greenville, which is very much smaller than my fair city, not only has my beloved Dogfish Head, but a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Sometimes life is not fair, unless you live in Columbia, and then its pretty much all the time. Of course I am kidding, absence only makes the heart grow fonder, so when I do get to relish in my oft missed delights I have a tendency to go a little crazy.
While in Greenville for Easter I managed to snag almond meal/four, unadulterated shredded coconut, and two of Dogfish head’s brews. I had to fight the urge to pick up everything they had in stock, instead I grabbed Aprihop, a lovely hoppy apricot brew, and Theobroma, a special brew based on the very first applications of cacao.

Dogfish Head's Theobroma

To be specific, Dogfish describes Theobroma as a “beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Heads Theobroma (translated into ‘food of the gods’) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds). It’s light in color – not what you expect with your typical chocolate beer. Not that you’d be surpised that we’d do something unexpected with this beer!”

Personally, the chocolate flavor was not everything I had ever hoped for and I was very surprised by the lightness of this draft. With that being said, I found Theobroma to be far more drinkable than I ever thought it would be. I loved the subtle hint of spice that mingled with the ancient honey rich base flavor. As always, I highly recommend picking up this offering, as I do with nearly everything the geniuses at Dogfish come up with. Even if you don’t think this beer is up your alley how can you pass up the drink of the gods ?

On to dinner…

Tonight’s dinner was based around the qualifications for the 2011 National Beef Cook-Off’s Dinner Crunch category. To qualify, all you needed is “focus on easy-to-prepare beef recipes for busy weeknight meals using ingredients commonly on hand at home”.

What do I always have at home? Onions, Jam, Red Wine, Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach and Cous Cous. What can you make with all of those random ingredients…I wasn’t sure either.

Until I decided to cook the onions in the jam, and then it was on. Initially I added about 2 tablespoons to the pan, but as I began to incorporate the mixture I noticed that that amount might not be enough to fully saturate the onions with flavor. Ultimately, 1/4 cup became the perfect amount to glaze and sweeten the onions without overwhelming the dish.

Diced Onions with Figgy Jam

I am a little addicted to apricots, there, I’ve said it.

My original plan called for apricot jam, but there was a lonely jar of barely sweetened fig jam just waiting to find the perfect moment for it’s day in the sun. The fig flavor is not overwhelming, is sweet, but not saccharin-ie, and goes great with savory dishes. My plan for the leftover jam is most likely to make a fig, prosciutto and goat cheese pizza. Yum!

While the onions simmered and caramelized in the jam I began to prepare the “special ingredient”. You can’t enter a beef contest without making the steak the star. In order to really show case the meat preparation was simple, just a little salt and pepper on each side.

Mmmmm, Beef!

While I focused on the star of the meal this is what was happening to the onions….

Fig Caramelized Onions

Perfection!

Once the onions were perfectly browned with figgy goodness I added one of my favorite old vine Zinfandels, Gnarly Head Zin, to deglaze the pan. Once the wine is in I added gobs of cherry tomatoes to stew and become wrinkly in the onion base. I have a deep love for slightly stewed tomatoes whose skin resembles a raisin and which provides a delightful pop of acidic flavor to any dish.

Tomatoes Stewing in Red Wine

Once the tomatoes were slightly loosened from their skin and the wine began to thicken I made room for the steak in the pan to sear in the simmering sauce.

Seared Steak Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

As I chose a thinner cut of meat I only cooked it for about 1 1/2 minute on each side side my steak slices would be rare. Once the steak was done cooking I removed the meat from the pan and placed on the cutting board and covered with a pot lid to let it rest. While the steak rested I added an additional dash of red wine to help wilt a large heap of spinach to add some green to the meal.

Wilting Spinach

Once the spinach was wilted the sauce was removed from the heat while the steak was cut in thin strips. I topped a bed of rosemary couscous with the onion sauce and placed the steak strips over top. Once everything was plated I added a handful of goat cheese crumbles to finish it off.

All Done

When everything came together I was smitten. I am a HUGE sweet and savory fan and the combination of the sweet jam and onions with the tart tomatoes and cheese really fit the bill. All in all, the steak was treated like royalty resting upon a lovely bed of dramatic and deeply flavorful vegetables.

Who knew my pantry held such a bounty? How about you? What creative meals have you come up with the bits and pieces you can find in your kitchen?

Seared Steak with Fig Caramelized Onions

1 chopped large yellow onion

1/4 fig jam

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 cup bold red wine

Steak

2 cups baby spinach

Goat Cheese

Combine the onion and jam in a pan on med-high and cook until caramelized.

Add red wine and tomatoes and stew on medium heat until the tomatoes begin to wrinkle and the sauce begins to thicken.

Salt and pepper the steak. Make a space in the center of the pan and place the steak in the center. Sear on high heat for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Remove the steak from the pan and cover to rest while spinach in incorporated.

Add a dash more of wine and spinach to the pan. Wilt the spinach till it is fully incorporated.

Slice the steak in to strips.

Place the sauce on top of your starch of choice. Place steak strips on top and sprinkle cheese to finish.

Enjoy!