Vegan Watermelon "Steak" Au Poivre

July 29, 2010

Vegan Watermelon “Steak” Au Poivre with Jicama Slaw & Grapefruit Essence

‘Stolen with permission’ from Highpoint Bistro & Bar’s Executive Chef Phil Deffina, this is one dish that certainly stands out on their menu. Watermelon Steak Au Poivre is an interesting vegan recipe that curiously manages to satisfy even the most ardent meat eater. The watermelon is glazed with pink peppercorns, white balsamic vinegar and honey and sits on a jicama slaw with grapefruit slices, and grapefruit essence. A more composed vegan entrée than the norm for omnivorous menus; the fruit takes a full-bodied, smoky char that strangely, and rather successfully, mimics that of a good steak. It’s the perfect refreshing summer dish that won’t have you missing the meat at all.

Highpoint Bistro & Bar just opened in Chelsea, NY and delivers a menu of crowd-pleasing, quality driven, yet affordable eats, aiming to make dining fun. The food is playful, interactive, and creative; the ambiance is casual but cool. Drop-down copper lamps by the bar add a touch of vintage coziness and the décor has New York written all over it, both literally and figuratively: black and white images of street signs and iconic buildings fill up the long, narrow dining room.

A few dishes that stand out from the unusual menu are Buffalo Chicken Lollipops, Tuna Tartare Tacos, flatbread pizzas, and Seared Day Boat Scallops, which are served with a smooth corn puree, strips of chorizo, and sautéed baby leeks. The surprise addition? Popcorn - giving the dish a crunchy, fun texture! Don’t forget to order some sides - Banana Fries are served in a mini shopping cart, while Crazy Corn is served on the cob with cilantro, butter, lime and cotija cheese. And for dessert -the trio of Crème Brulee Egglings is a favorite; banana rum, raspberry and vanilla flavors, each piped into its own hollowed out eggshell and set on mini terracotta planters, but not to be missed is the Caramel Experiment; a luscious caramel stream is poured onto a Himalayan salt slab, creating a constantly evolving flavor experience to be enjoyed with an array of fruit, popcorn, and assorted baked goods…

Wash all this down with wines that are presented with emphasis on affordability; priced in three tiers ($25, $35, and $45) or one of the bartender and mixologist Paul Huber’s creations like Plum Crazy, or the Sunny Day in Chelsea - made with pink grapefruit vodka, elderflowers and honey.

About the chef: Executive Chef Phil Deffina joined Highpoint after working at San Francisco’s much loved 4-star restaurant, La Folie, and after spending six years working under famed chef David Burke. By merging the laid back casual cool of California cooking with the sophistication and cheekiness of New York Culture, Deffina creates food that’s quintessentially, unpretentiously, Modern American. Highpoint gives Deffina a stage for his passion and creativity – we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Highpoint Bistro & Bar
216 Seventh Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd) 
New York, NY 10011
646 410 0120 

Watermelon “Steak” Au Poivre is served at Highpoint Bistro & Bar for $16. 
This recipe makes 2 restaurant servings and takes 15minutes to prep and 20 minutes in total.

Watermelon “Steak” Au Poivre, Jicama Slaw and Grapefruit Essence Ingredients:
2 thick slices red seedless watermelon approx. 4x3x2 (rind off)
1 large jicama (peeled and julienned) 
3 red radishes, sliced 
1 grapefruit (peeled, reserve the skin, segmented)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs tarragon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ bunch asparagus (blanched and cut into thirds)
6 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Steal This Recipe® Step by Step Instructions:
Get the grill going ahead of time.
In a shallow bowl or Ziploc bag combine the white balsamic vinegar, honey, peppercorn and black pepper. Place the “steaks” of water melon in the mixture and let sit for 10 min until ready to grill.
Peel the grapefruit trying not to get too much of the pith.
In a small saucepot place grapefruit rinds in cold water bring to a boil. When the grapefruit rinds come to a boil, strain the rinds and repeat 3 times, reserve and cool the rinds.
In a blender or Vitamix puree the blanched grapefruit rinds and slowly add the olive oil, mustard and salt until thickened; if too thick add some grapefruit juice from the segments. Set the Grapefruit Essence aside. 
To serve, lightly oil the “watermelon steak” and place on the grill to slightly caramelize the steak. Cook for 4 min or until the grill marks stand out. 
In a large bowl mix the jicama, radish, tarragon sprigs, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and grapefruit segments. 
Toss with some of the Grapefruit Essence and season to taste.
Serve the grilled watermelon on top of the Jicama Slaw and finish by drizzling the grapefruit essence around the watermelon “steak.”

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