Seared Skirt Steak With Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Polenta Recipe

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Polenta is the kind of stuff that's just begging for a flavorful sauce to be spooned into it. But pan-seared steak doesn't really provide much sauce of its own. The solution: Toss some juicy cherry tomatoes and chilies into the skillet as the steak finishes cooking. Their natural juices pick up the flavorful pan drippings and—with just a touch of olive oil—emulsify into a rich, flavor-packed pan sauce.

Why this recipe works:

  • The steak marinates while the polenta cooks, ensuring that it's packed with flavor before it goes in the pan.
  • Instead of deglazing with wine, we use naturally juicy, sweet, and tart cherry tomatoes which blister and burst in the skillet. Hot chilies and scallions round out the flavors.

Note: An equivalent weight of hanger or flap steak can be used in place of skirt or flank steak.

Recipe Details

Seared Skirt Steak With Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Polenta Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 75 mins
Serves 4 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt or flank steak (see note)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons), divided

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 cup coarse-ground polenta (corn meal)

  • 1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes

  • 2 small red chiles such as Fresno or Thai bird, thinly sliced

  • 3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • Chopped chives, scallion greens, or parsley, for garnish


  1. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Rub with 2 minced cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside at room temperature.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until butter is foaming. Add 2 minced cloves garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisking constantly, slowly add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until polenta is completely tender and creamy, about 40 minutes, adding water as necessary to keep it loose.

  3. When polenta is fully cooked, stir in heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

  4. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add steak in a single layer and cook, turning frequently, until well browned on both sides and center of steak registers 110°F for medium-rare or 115°F for medium, 6 to 8 minutes total. 1 minute before steak is done, add tomatoes to pan. Remove steaks and set aside. Add chiles, scallions, and remaining 2 minced cloves garlic to pan. Add 1/4 cup water and scrape up browned bits. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until tomatoes burst and release their juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and soy sauce off heat, adding water as necessary to reach a creamy sauce-like consistency.

  5. To serve, transfer polenta to a pre-heated plate. Slice steak thinly against the grain. Transfer to polenta, top with blistered tomatoes and pan sauce, sprinkle with herbs, and serve.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
750 Calories
53g Fat
26g Carbs
44g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 750
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 23g 117%
Cholesterol 142mg 47%
Sodium 1820mg 79%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 44g
Vitamin C 27mg 135%
Calcium 229mg 18%
Iron 6mg 31%
Potassium 1139mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)