Chopped?

The real life application of the “reality television” conceit.

Years ago…before there was The Food Network; before “reality TV” took over the networks, broadcast and cable, there was real life.

Years ago, I found myself home alone on a Saturday night. The wife was away for the weekend visiting with her parents at their then full-time residence in Pennsylvania‘s Poconos (Note: “the Poconos” are often referred to as mountains but, in truth, they are just a time-worn and eroded plateau.  Or so my geologic-oriented friends tell me). As dinner time came, I started rummaging around in the kitchen and pantry to find something to prepare for my evening meal.  The result of my in-house foraging was a smoked oyster risotto.  But that is a story for another day.

Today’s installment is about a similar situation but with just a little more planning and that includes using what was on hand with one quick trip to the market.

My in laws have long since relocated to the far reaches of Montgomery County, PA.  It’s about an hour’s drive from our home in Trenton.  They’ve been dealing with some health issues and my wife went out today to stay with them for about a week.  Thinking about dinner tonight, I decided to grab some sort of seafood…a lovely 3/4 pound tuna steak.

After yesterday’s trip to the local farmers’ market I had on hand at the house some Jersey peaches, moderately hot banana peppers, tomatoes and a very interesting spanish spice mix called “pinchito” seasoning.  There was also a handful of locally grown romano beans.

This put me in mind of a meal I had on one of our trips to the Florida Keys…a kingfish steak with a mango/habanero salsa.

I fired up the grill and took one of the peaches, cut it in half and removed the pit. I washed off one of the banana peppers. Once the grill was hot, I put the peach halves…flesh side down, and the chile on the grill.

In the meantime, I rinsed the tuna steak and dried it then dusted it with some pinchitos seasoning that I bought from La Tienda.  Both sides.

When I could smell the peach caramelizing, I flipped it over.  I also turned the pepper so it would char all over. While they roasted, I diced up a tomato and tossed it into a bowl.

Once the skin of the peach was charred and the pepper roasted, I took them off the grill and put my cast iron skillet on to heat.

I skinned the peach halves and rough chopped them.  The pepper I skinned and removed the top, seeds and membranes.  That also got chopped and tossed into the bowl with the peach, tomato and a splash of “juice” left over from a container of salsa from the mexican stall at the market.  Stir and let sit.

Now the pan was smoking hot.  I added a little olive oil and then,, once the oil was hot,  laid the tuna into the pan.  Two minutes a side and dinner was ready.

I plated up the tuna steak, topped it with some of the salsa and added the beans which I had prepared earlier (boiled in salted water for 4 minutes, drained tossed with salt, pepper and peperoncino and a drizzle of garlic/rosemary infused olive oil then placed in the fridge to chill).

The wine cellar is a little light on whites right now, but I had this bottle of Nissely Classic White (2008) from a wine tour of Lancaster County we had taken last year.  Dinner was served.

It filled the belly and brought some contentment even though my beloved spouse was gone on the eve of our 24th wedding anniversary.

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