As much as I love to take my time and explore all my cookbooks and go down a Pinterest-hole to find new recipes, sometimes the inspiration is right in front of me, in the form of my favorite magazine, Sunset.
A seemingly questionable recipe, this one from the April issue (ripped from the headlines!) for Grilled Steaks with Celery and Anchovy Salad struck my fancy, mostly for the sheer audacity of using an entire can of anchovies.
Anchovies are one of the best secret ingredients you can use in a lot of dishes. They are intense, salty, full of umami flavor, but yet more often than not blend into the background of a dish, and you can’t tell what that flavor is, you just know it’s delicious.
I think most people look at anchovies and think they’re gross, and quite honestly, if you eat a canned anchovy, yeah, they’re a little much to taste. But if you have a fresh anchovy, that’s a whole different story. If you’ve never had fresh anchovies, I suggest you try them. They’re delicious and incredibly tasty.
More often than not a recipe asks for just a few of these magical little fish, but as I said, this recipe called for an entire can! Plus it involves steak, and I always love a good steak.
Another good thing about this recipe is that the dressing doubles as a marinade, making prep super simple.
So first comes the marinade. First the anchovies.
In a blender, or small food processor, combine them with garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, red chili flakes, olive oil, and salt.
Whirl all that together until it’s a nice, smooth dressing/marinade.
Then take a rib-eye steak (the recipe calls for four, but I can’t eat all four! I mean, I could, but…) and cover it with some of the marinade. Let it sit while you do some other things.
While that’s marinating, you can get the salad ready. I’m not a huge fan of celery, personally. I mean, sure, with peanut butter, well, anything’s good with peanut butter. But it generally plays a supporting role in a dish, instead of being front and center (though lord help you if you try to serve me cooked celery in something other than Thanksgiving stuffing. BLECH!). This salad is all celery, all the time, so I was skeptical.
Slice the celery at an angle so you get nice, hearty pieces.
You’re going to want to wash and tear some parsley leaves as well. You also need to toast some almonds in a pan.
Now, cooking this is fairly simple. The recipe calls for a grill, which I don’t have (thanks, apartment living/Obama), so I just used the broiler. Broil the steak for about 5 minutes on each side. While that’s broiling you can act quickly and combine the celery, parsley, and almonds, and toss them with some more of the flavorful anchovy dressing.
When the steak is done, let it cool for a few minutes (key to a juicy steak!), and spread a little more of the dressing on top. It will absorb into the meat making it even tastier. Put it on a plate and serve it with the celery and parsley salad.
Now, let me tell you something. I’ve made a lot of steaks in my day, and I’ve tried a lot of different sauces and marinades to go with them. So imagine my surprise when this one suddenly shoots to the top of my favorites list after the first bite. On the steak the dressing is flavorful and enhances the flavor of the beef, while adding a ton of complexity to it. But on the salad, it’s cool and refreshing, and not overpowering by any means. And that celery? What an unexpectedly great complement to the meat. The crunch added some much needed texture to the overall dish, and it was bright and flavorful.
So for all you anchovy doubters out there, my boyfriend is one of them too and he devoured his steak and said it’s the “best thing you’ve ever made*,” and was very surprised when I told him there were anchovies in it, because he couldn’t taste them. So give it a try, and embrace the taste!
* he says that a lot.
Recipe can be found here.