Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 140! Cote d'Ivoire - Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade and Grilled Okra and Tomato Kebabs

Taste of Africa Dish # 6 : Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinate and Grilled Okra and Tomato Kebabs ~ A cooking collaboration with Taste of Africa, which will help African companies connect to buyers across the U.S. in this year's Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC - July 10-12. Funded through USAID's West Africa Trade Hub and Southern Africa Global Competitiveness Hub, the Association Africa Agro-Export and other partners.

Tonight's Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade showcases an excellent export product from the West African country of Cote d'Ivoire - none other than coffee. While you might not think of using in coffee in a marinade, the rich, medium roast African Blend I used adds depth and syrupy body to my personal favorite cut of beef.  And, as luck would have it, I happened on a recipe in Gourmet's Grilling Special Edition, for tomato and okra kebabs that not only goes perfectly with flank steak, but features two beautiful vegetables frequently eaten in Cote d'Ivoire, as well as in many other African countries. Why the rest of the world doesn't embrace okra as I do will forever be a mystery to me.

Located on the south coast of West Africa, Cote d'Ivoire is bordered by Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Gulf of Guinea, the Atlantic Ocean, Liberia and Guinea. Except for the Guinea Highlands in the northwest, with peaks rising to 5000 ft., Cote d'Ivoire is mainly a vast plateau, that tilts gently toward the Atlantic Ocean. Four major rivers run through the country: the Cavally, Sassandra, Bandama and Comoe. Because these rivers tend to be fairly sluggish in the dry season, flood in the rainy season, and are broken up by numerous falls and rapids, they do not hold significant or reliable value for commerce and transportation.

Cuisine in Cote d'Ivoire, is characterized by slow simmered stews and a variety of starches, like cassava and grains. Chicken and fish are popular sources of protein. Tomatoes, eggplant, okra and onions are staple vegetables, and cassava, plantains and rice form the bulk of starchy calories. A popular dish is mafe, or sauce d'archide, which is made in a tasty peanut sauce. Side dishes include fried or mashed plantains and attieke as well as grated and cooked cassava. More recently, coffee, cashew nuts and cassava semolina have become viable and sustainable export items in Cote d'Ivoire.

Flank Steak with Coffee-Peppercorn Marinade (Recipe Adapted from S.A., West African exporter of coffee, cashew nuts, banana chips, attieke (cassava semonlina)

(For a 2 lb. flank steak)

6 Tbsp. strong brewed African Blend coffee
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Shallots (or 4 cloves garlic), minced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp. whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp. sea salt
2 lbs. flank steak, trimmed of fat

Whisk coffee, vinegar, oil, sugar, shallots, ginger, peppercorns and salt in a glass dish large enough for meat to lie flat. Add steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Heat grill to high.
Remove steak from marinade (discard marinade). Lightly oil grill rack.
Place steak on grill and cook for 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare.
Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and place on platter.

Okra and Tomato Kebabs (Recipe Adapted from Gourmet)

1 lb. small tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes
3/4 lb. okra, trimmed, leaving tops intact
1/4 tsp. salt
Olive oil for coating kebabs

Oil grill rack
Toss tomatoes and okra with olive oil and salt. Thread tomatoes onto 3 or 4 skewers. Thread okra crosswise onto pairs of parallel skewers, leaving spaces between pieces. Put on a tray.
Heat grill, grill tomato and okra skewers, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally, until tomatoes just being to wilt and okra is tender, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to platter with flank steak and serve.

(C) 2010-2011, What's Cooking in Your World?/ Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved 

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