This is one of my little kitchen experiments that yielded surprisingly good results on the first try. (They don’t always have happy endings, but I’ll spare you the failures, at least for now.) I wanted to create a sauce that had the velvety texture and layered complexity of a Mexican mole poblano, but with brighter summer flavors. I started with roasted peaches and cherry tomatoes as the flavor base in my head and layered from there. I’ll admit it, this is a very time-consuming recipe. Sometimes I like an excuse to spend all day in the kitchen. The good news is that you can do it all ahead of time so you can actually enjoy your own dinner party when the guests arrive. And the sauce freezes beautifully and no doubt would be equally good on salmon, pork, perhaps even chicken. In my book, totally worth the effort.
I wish I had better photos of the final dish, which was actually quite pretty. But I haven’t yet mastered the art of food photography after the sun goes down. The flash seems to make everything look like those unappetizing photo menus at bad foreign restaurants. Photography tips are welcome. In the meantime, my benchmark is if the photo doesn’t make me drool, better to leave it up to your imagination.
4 ripe yellow peaches, +1 slightly firmer peach for grilling
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 small shallots
4 cloves garlic (I used elephant garlic from the farmer’s market, so I only needed 2 cloves)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
2 canned chipotle chile peppers in adobo (if you like things on the spicy side, just one if you want to keep it mellow)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2-2 lbs flank steak
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove crushed garlic
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet. Peel peaches and cut into wedges and toss in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper. Spread onto half of baking sheet. Toss tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and spread onto the other half of baking sheet. Do the same with shallots (peeled, with ends cut off, but kept whole) and garlic (cut off ends, but keep peels on), and carve out a corner of the baking sheet for them. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until everything in the pan is soft, slightly browned and caramelized.
Remove pan from oven. Set aside about 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatoes in a bowl for later. Place remaining tomatoes, peaches, shallots (tough outer layers removed), garlic (peeled), and chipotles in a food processor and puree until smooth. Strain mixture in batches through a fine mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. The mixture that’s left in the pan should be smooth and velvety.
Add water and molasses to saucepan with peach/tomato mixture and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2o min. Add thyme and simmer for another 2o. Stir in lime juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Set sauce aside until serving time.
Grind coriander seeds, peppercorns, kosher salt, sweet paprika and thyme in a mortar and pestle, until it’s the texture of coarsely ground pepper. Add sugar, olive oil and crushed garlic and mix into a paste. Spread paste evenly onto both sides of flank steak and marinate for 20-60 minutes.
Cut remaining peach into 6 wedges (leaving skin on) and skewer. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill steak and peaches over medium-high flames, for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime, if your sauce has cooled, heat it now.
Carve steak across the grain into thin slices, and arrange slices on heated serving platter. Pour any juices that have collected on the cutting board over the steak, then top with a drizzle of “mole” sauce down the center. (Go easy–the stuff has a kick!). Scatter grilled peaches and reserved roasted tomatoes over the top of the platter and serve, with extra sauce on the side.
From the “Close Your Eyes and Pretend It’s Summer” feast.