1/2 tsp olive oil or peanut oil
2 boneless strip steaks, 8 oz each
1/2 cup Madeira or dry Marsala
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
1-1/2 tbsp tomato paste diluted in 1-1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 Serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
(or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
Heat oil in a large, heavy, well-seasoned skilled (if you do not have a well-seasoned skillet, use a non-stick skilled) over medium heat. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, arrange the steaks in the pan. Cook the steaks until seared brown, reducing the heat if necessary so that the oil will not burn, about 3 minutes. Turn over the steaks and cook to the desired doneness 2 to 3 minutes longer for rare, 4 minutes longer for medium. Transfer the steaks to a carving board. Pour the fat from the pan and discard. Add the Madeira and red wine and increase the heat to high. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Boil the wine for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the diluted tomato paste and the Serrano pepper. Cook until the sauce is the consistency of thick cream and reduced to about .5 cup, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using a sharp knife, slice the steaks into thin slices, season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the steak juices, if any, into the sauce. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of sauce onto each of warmed plates. Divide the steak slices equally and arrange in a fan over the sauce Sprinkle the basil on top and serve at once.
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