Adapted from License to Grill by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (William Morrow and Company, 1997). Copyright 1997 by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby.
With all the health concerns these days about eating too much red meat, it makes sense to really enjoy it when you do eat it. In other words, if I'm eating steak, I want to know it. That means I want to go with a prep that features the rich, savory flavor of the meat itself. To me, both rosemary and smoky eggplant help bring out the true nature of grilled beef rather than obscuring it.
It you go to a butcher for your meat, try to get thick steaks cut from a smaller loin, which will give you a more tender product. In any case, make sure you get steaks that are really thick, so they can get a good, strong sear on the outside and still be rare at the center.
For the Relish:
1. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix well. Rub the steaks all over with this mixture and grill them over a hot fire for 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. To check for doneness: Cut into one of the steaks to see that it is about one degree less done in the center than you want, since it will cook a little more after you take it off the fire. When the steaks are done to your liking, pull them off the grill and let them rest for about 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the relish: Rub the eggplant and onions with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and grill around the edge of the fire, just barely over the flame (you are looking for a medium-hot fire for these vegetables), until they are well browned and soft throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Pull them off the grill, dice them into medium chunks, and place them in a medium bowl. Add the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and toss well.
3. By this time the steaks should be just right, so serve them up with a few heaping spoonfuls of the relish.
"I am just infinitely inspired by Basque cooking, Basque ingredients and the Basque landscape," says chef Alex Raij, who wrote The Basque Book with her husband, chef Eder Montero.