If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

The heat wave continues its assault here in Santa Barbara. Despite a recent ocean breeze offering some relief, it’s still too hot to cook inside.

My kitchen has cooled off a bit, but I can’t imagine spending the next hour or more in its inferno. I have some steaks which I’ll throw on the grill tonight. I’ll toss together a salad and open some wine. Done. Grilled steaks are fine, but after years of working in bistros I know how a sauce partnered with a steak can transform the meal. A plain steak just seems, well.

Plain.

A great sauce requires a few basics. A pan. Some pan seared protein. Liquid to de-glaze the brown bits from the bottom of said pan. Additional ingredients such as stock, vegetables and herbs are needed. Butter makes it better. Cream? Bring it. But since I won’t be sautéing anything tonight, the pan is out of the equation. Now, I could in theory devise a sauce separate from the steak, but it’s just too much damn work. And let’s remember the heat factor people. Sauce is out.

Luckily I have plan B, insuring tonight’s meal won’t disappoint. A lean, grass fed sirloin has been getting cozy with a marinade of red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, garlic and ginger for a good part of the day. Over some hot coals I’ll sear the steak, grill some ciabatta on the side and top it all off with a generous spoon of Red Onion Marmalade.

This delicious condiment is a mainstay in my fridge and easy to prepare. All you need are a few ingredients and a bit of time. The jam cooks on the stove top, and while it takes a good hour to make it requires little supervision. You can make this any time of day while you do other things. This jam holds beautifully in the fridge for several months, the sugar and acids serving as natural preservatives.

The marmalade will serve you well with its multiple ‘personalities’. A perfect match to beef and pork, it’s also a wonderful addition to a grilled panini, as a topping to slather on flat bread or mixed into your favorite meat loaf or meatball recipe. It can turn an ordinary burger into an extraordinary meal. Ketchup? Doesn’t stand a chance. I’ve even used it as a topping for pizza. It works.

Tomorrow I will post the recipe; I encourage you to make it soon. Having a jar (or two) at the ready may not be life changing, but right now? I’m not in the kitchen. I’m enjoying a glass of wine outside, the grill is ready to fire up. The salad is chilling, and so am I.

Life changing? Perhaps.

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