Black-eyed peas and big-flavored steaks

by Terry B on May 23, 2007

Black-eyed Pea Salsa with chili powder teams up beautifully with Curried Steaks. Recipe below.

A couple of quick notes. First, for those of you who don’t eat red meat, this black-eyed pea salsa also livens up grilled fish or chicken breasts. Also, I’m doing two posts today, so be sure to scroll down for the second one.

The other day I realized that, as much as I love red meat, you wouldn’t know it to look at this blog. In fact, in the seven months Blue Kitchen has been open, I’ve talked about it exactly once, unless you count the two chili recipes that use ground beef. That is just plain wrong.

Growing up, ground was about the only kind of beef I knew, aside from the occasional stringy pot roast—burgers, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, more meatloaf… I wasn’t introduced to the wonders of steak until I was in college, and then it was at one of those cafeteria-style joints called BEST STEAK HOUSE [or something equally overpromising] where you watch hairy-armed men tossing steaks on permanently charred grills with flames shooting up all around as the fat sizzled off. A steak dinner with baked potato and iceberg lettuce salad set you back maybe four or five bucks, and it was love at first gristly bite.

I have since graduated to better cuts of meat—and from medium-well to medium to medium-rare to rare. But the pure primal satisfaction that is steak remains undeniable.

Although one of my favorite ways to prepare steak is what I call my French bistro steak, seared in butter and the pan deglazed with red wine, I’m starting with this recipe because when I came across it in my files recently, I immediately wanted the black-eyed pea salsa.

Black-eyed peas are another food item very popular in the south [like last week's okra]. Even though this salsa is named for them, there are lots of flavors at play here. When you first start cooking the green pepper and chili powder, the aroma will be less than encouraging. Don’t worry, though—when the other ingredients are added, it all comes together fabulously. And when it gets together with the steaks with their peppery curry marinade, the results are amazing.

Curried Steaks with Black-eyed Pea Salsa
Serves 4

For Salsa:
2 tablespoons canola oil [see Kitchen Notes]
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 cups firm, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced [about 3 medium]
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced [white and green parts]

For Steaks:
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1-1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 tablespoon curry powder
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 strip steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each
salt

Prepare the salsa. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, chili powder and green pepper. Sauté for 1 minute, lower heat to medium and stir in water and black-eyed peas. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in diced tomatoes, mixing well. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle green onions over top. Set aside to cool.

Prepare steaks. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, pepper, curry powder and lime juice. Brush steaks on both sides with marinade and allow them to rest for 15 minutes, turning once.

Salt steaks on both sides and grill or broil [I used a grilling pan on the stovetop] for about 3 minutes on one side. Turn and grill for an additional 2 minutes on the second side for medium rare. Transfer to plates and spoon black-eyed pea salsa over them.

Kitchen Notes

Oil. When sautéing something over medium-high or high heat, I go for an oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor, usually canola or grapeseed oil. You can also use vegetable oil, but it doesn’t share their healthy properties.

On the topic of oils, everyone goes crazy for extra virgin olive oil. Great for salad dressings and for dipping bread in, not so great for cooking. First, it has a lower smoke point than regular olive oil—which is already plenty low for anything other than a low to medium flame. And second, it has a more assertive taste. So for cooking, I go for a decent quality olive oil that’s a little less virginal.

Also this week in Blue Kitchen

What’s your sign? The charm of homemade advertising—come and get it at WTF? Random food for thought.

Find the definitive answer to the question “Can a white boy play the blues?” at What’s on the kitchen boombox?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan from Food "Blogga" May 23, 2007 at 4:13 am

When I lived in N.C., I ate a lot of black-eyed peas, as they were always at every function. I don’t like them as much as okra, but they are good, especially with corn bread. I haven’t made them in ages; but I’ll reconsider that now. Thanks, Terry!

Lydia May 23, 2007 at 9:44 am

I definitely don’t use black-eyed peas often enough, so the sound of this salsa really appeals to me!

Patricia Scarpin May 23, 2007 at 12:56 pm

How hard it is for a girl to google these grains and not find that “oh, I’m so irresistible” so called singer?? :P

I have seen black-eyed peas here, Terry, but I need to find out their name in Portuguese in order to buy some.

This dish looks so delicious. I love it that you use green bell pepper. And those steaks would make João’s eyes shine – he’s crazy for steaks!! :)

Carolyn May 23, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Omigosh! It’s still there, that Best Steak House in St. Louis’ Midtown Arts District. The same hairy-arms (Middle Eastern now) are slinging steaks, baked potatoes, and a bowl full of greens at ‘ya for around $10.
http://www.saucemagazine.com/drill.php?EstID=179&page=TextSearch.php&Text=Best+Steak+House

Jennifer Hess May 23, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Wow, that looks awesome. I adore black-eyed peas, too.

Terry B May 23, 2007 at 6:24 pm

Interesting that the black-eyed peas are getting all the attention—I was really jazzed about finally giving red meat its due. Still, black-eyed peas are very tasty and versatile, as this decidedly non-southern dish shows. I used canned, but you can also buy them frozen, fresh [only on occasion and only in a few places] or dried. The canned ones were ridiculously convenient. I may try the frozen for the same reason.

Carolyn—That is exactly the place. Glad to know it’s still around and still a deal. And the steaks are probably as gristly but tasty as ever.

Kirsten May 24, 2007 at 5:04 am

Wow – how delicious!! And you know that to keep my boyfriend happy, I make a lot of red meat. :)

AMAZING photo too. Just lovely.

Freya May 25, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Delicious! I adore black eyed peas, they have a delicious, firm texture that larger beans don’t have. One to bookmark!

Judy Wendt July 9, 2009 at 11:58 am

I love black-eyed peas. Have tried the dried without much success. After trying both frozen and canned, much prefer the frozen. The canned are often too mushy.

Terry B July 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Kirsten—Your boyfriend is a man after my own heart. And what a great girlfriend he has!

Thanks, Freya!

Judy Wendt—Thanks for the tip on the frozen black-eyed peas! I’ve avoided them in the past because of the longer cooking time, but I’ll have to give them a try. For this dish, they’d need precooking—oterhwise, the other ingredients would get overcooked.

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