Taking inspiration from Italy’s peperonata and caponata, these piquant peppers make a great accompaniment to sirloin, or indeed any, steak. Add chips like my husband does or (my choice) serve with crusty bread to mop up the gorgeous juices.
This is latest of my recipes for Nicola Chapman from Carr Farm in the beautiful Waveney Valley on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Her Belted Galloway cattle, certified by the high welfare Pasture For Life Farm Assurance Scheme, are 100% grass fed. Their natural diet results in well-flavoured beef.
Vegans can eat the piquant peppers as a stand-alone dish or as part of a bigger spread. Vegetarians might consider griddling some halloumi to go on top.
How you go about making this depends on the time and energy at your disposal. The texture will be immeasurably improved if you skin the peppers first. To do this, char them on a gas flame or under a grill, turning so they’re blackened, then place in a lidded bowl. Once cool, peel off the skins, de-seed and slice.
Alternatively, cook them with the skins on or use jarred, chargrilled peppers.
You can make this on the stove top, as I did, but if you have your barbecue lit the smoky flavours would be a bonus. Blacken the peppers as above over hot coals, then cook the dish slowly, covered, on indirect heat, giving it a final blast on the hot side at the end.
This is one recipe where I cook with my very best extra-virgin olive oil. I usually save it for dressings and drizzles but it adds an extra dimension of flavour here.
And finally, you can make the piquant peppers in advance if that suits your timings better, and gently re-heat them when you cook the steak. It’s quite an economical dish – two steaks can easily be stretched to feed three.
Steak with Piquant Peppers
2 sirloin steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 red (or white) onions, peeled, halved and sliced root to tip
Salt and pepper
4 large bell peppers, a mix of colours if possible, peeled, cored, and cut into strips
3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp chilli flakes, optional (I like mild, sweet Aleppo)
20-24 black olives, pitted (I like the salty, dry-packed ones)
150-200g cherry tomatoes
2 or 3 tbsp capers
1 or 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, to taste
In a large frying, one which has a lid, heat the oil and add the onions, sprinkled with a little salt. Put on the lid and cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft and wilting.
Add the peppers, garlic and olives, stir well, put the lid back on and cook gently for around 50 minutes, until the peppers have also softened. Now mix through the capers and cherry tomatoes and cook, lid on, for a further 15-20 minutes.
The juices will thicken slightly and the peppers and onions should collapse into a soft, silky mass, with the tomatoes still more or less keeping their shape. Gently stir through a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar, just enough to cut the sweetness of the vegetables and add piquancy.
Set aside to allow all the flavours to mingle while you cook the steak. Pat it dry with kitchen paper, rub it with oil and season it well with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan on a high heat.
Once it’s hot, stand the steaks on their sides to cook the fat, using tongs to grip them. Once the fat is browned, lay them flat and cook, still on a high heat, to your preference. It depends how thick they are but mine took about two minutes a side for medium rare. Remove to a warm plate and rest for at least five minutes, loosely covered.
Check the seasoning of the piquant peppers and add ground black pepper and more salt and another spoonful of capers if necessary. Pour any resting juices from the meat into the pan. Scoop into bowls and top with the sliced steak.