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Weekend Recipe: Charcoal-Grilled Tuna Steaks with Red Wine Vinegar and Mustard Vinaigrette

Photo courtesy of Cook's Illustrated

Cook's Illustrated secret to tender tuna steaks: brushing them with a vinaigrette just before they go on the grill. The honey in the vinaigrette will promote browning and create a lovely, smoky char. Medium rare steaks will cook very quickly and should be served immediately. If you rather have a medium steak, tent them in foil for five minutes before serving. For summer, serve it as a Niçoise salad!

Charcoal-Grilled Tuna Steaks with Red Wine Vinegar and Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 6

Vegetable oil for cooking grate
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Table salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
3/4 cup olive oil
6 tuna steaks, 1 inch thick (about 8 ounces each) (see note)
Ground black pepper

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Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Build modified two-level fire by arranging all coals in even layer over half of grill, leaving other half empty. Loosely cover cooking grate with large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil; position grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Remove foil with tongs and discard; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Lightly dip wad of paper towels in oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe grate. Continue to wipe grate with oiled paper towels, redipping towels in oil between applications, until grate is black and glossy, 5 to 10 times. Grill is ready when coals are hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate for 3 to 4 seconds).

While grill heats, whisk vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, mustard, honey, and thyme or rosemary together in large bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle oil into vinegar mixture until lightly thickened and emulsified. Measure out ¾ cup vinaigrette and set aside for cooking fish. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for serving.

Brush both sides of fish liberally with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill fish without moving until grill marks form and bottom surface is opaque, about 1½ minutes. Carefully flip, cooking until grill marks form on second side, about 1½ minutes longer for rare (opaque at perimeter and translucent red at center when checked with tip of paring knife) or 3 minutes for medium-rare (opaque at perimeter and reddish pink at center). Transfer to large plate and serve immediately, passing reserved vinaigrette.

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