Steak. Cheesy carbs. Greens.
What beef-loving Texan wouldn’t swoon for this meal on Valentine’s Day? When My Table was asked if we’d like to feature a recipe from chef Hugo Ortega for home chefs to drool over, how could we resist?

Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the second busiest dining-out day of the year in the United States? Mothers Day takes the top spot. And this year, OpenTable predicts (based on reservations) that couples are celebrating love not only on February 14 but the weekend before and after Valentine’s Day as well. If you’ve not yet made reservations, the time to do so is now.

There is a lot that goes into creating a romantic dinner for your customers. “There are high expectations on special holidays,” says Ortega. “We love getting ready for them. There is a lot of anticipation on our part, too. We make new dishes and feature some new drinks, decorate and try to be especially well-prepared. A lot of thought goes into the menu and planning.”

Speaking of romance, we wanted to know: About how many proposals have Hugo and (co-owner and wife) Tracy seen at their restaurants? “We have lost count. Especially Backstreet. Definitely hundreds and hundreds. It’s very romantic. We love it because each proposal is embedded in our history and identity. So much happiness, hope and positive thinking. We love being part of the big life moments of our customers!”

For some, dining in at home is the most romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day. We asked the James Beard award-winning chef why cooking for someone can often translate to I love you. “Cooking can be an artistic expression. You must consider the other person when deciding what to cook (will they be open to eating shrimp, gluten, dairy etc). It takes time and preparation. It isn’t something you can just go out and buy, like chocolates or roses.”  Oh, snap!

Photos courtesy of Beef Loving Texans. Want to make the meal lighter with more veggies (and color) such as what is shown above? Bypass the cheesy grits and add cauliflower, broccoli and even a few marinated cranberries to your meal. 

Photos courtesy of Beef Loving Texans. Want to make the meal lighter with more veggies (and color) such as what is shown above? Bypass the cheesy grits and add oven-roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and even a few marinated cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds to your meal.

Tomahawk Steak with Texas Hill Country Wine-Persimmon Sauce
From chef Hugo Ortega of Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi

Tomahawk Steak
1 Tomahawk steak (30-34 oz.; inquire with your preferred butcher)
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

Texas Hill Country Wine-Persimmon Sauce
1 tsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. shallots, diced
¼ tsp. minced garlic
1 cup persimmons, diced
1 cup red wine (Bellissimo Texas red wine is recommended in this recipe)
½ tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ Tbsp. chili flakes

Cheese Grits
1 cup stone-ground yellow grits
2 cups water
½ cup grated asiago cheese
¾ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts
½ cup fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. fresh thyme
½ tsp. fresh oregano
¼ tsp. dry crushed red pepper
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
½ tsp. salt
2 cups Brussels sprouts leaves
Pinch salt

METHOD: Preheat oven to 375°F. Rub steak with salt and black pepper evenly, pressing the
seasoning into the beef with your hand. Let the steak come to room temperature. Heat a
cast iron skillet over high heat, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and heat until it just starts to smoke.
Sear the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side or until it is a nice golden brown, crusted
surface. Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil, place the skillet in the oven and roast the
steak for 15-20 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. Let rest 5-8 minutes before

Preheat small saucepan over medium heat, add oil and heat. Add shallots and cook for 30
seconds; add garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Add persimmons and cook for 2 minutes. Add
red wine, Dijon, brown sugar, thyme and chili flakes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to
low and reduce sauce by half. Allow to cool down. The sauce can be served warm or room

For the grits: Preheat large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add grits and whisk in water.
Continue whisking until grits are just cooked, about 10-12 minutes. Add cheeses and
butter and cook 1 more minute, constantly stirring. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat. If
grits are too thick, add heavy cream or water to loosen the texture.

For the Brussels sprouts: Place parsley, cilantro, garlic, thyme, oregano, crushed red pepper, 1/2 cup olive oil, red
wine, white wine and salt in a blender and blend for two minutes; set aside.

Preheat skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and heat. Add Brussels sprout
leaves and sauté for 2 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp. of blended herb, mix well cook for 1 minute
more. Season to taste.

TO PLATE: For presentation, we suggest slicing the meat (against the grain) into 6 slices in
the kitchen, then arranging the tomahawk bone and meat on a serving platter in their
natural shape/location (to make it look like the steak is intact). Place 2 oz. of sauce on the left portion of each plate, and the grits and Brussels sprouts on the right side of the plate. Place the plates on the table, and then present the Tomahawk platter. Serve meat while seated, placing beef on top of the sauce.

This post occurs courtesy of Beef Loving Texans and the Texas Beef Council.