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Rich, saucy steak pairs well with buttery baguette

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 9:39 am

Like it or not, it's best to simply embrace that chocolate must play a key role in any Valentine's Day dinner.

But a chocolate tart or truffles or bonbons or even chocolate-dipped strawberries are cliche. Maybe think a little outside the chocolate box this year. Maybe slip the chocolate in as a savory component to a steak dinner so rich and so delicious, you'll be tempted to abandon silverware as you eat it.

And you can. Though mole dishes such as this beef version often are served over rice, I've instead paired it with a warmed, butter-drenched baguette. Torn hunks of crusty bread are perfect for sopping up the delicious sauce the beef tips are cooked in.

Beef mole with buttery baguette

Start to finish: 40

Servings: 3

12-inch baguette, halved lengthwise

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter, softened

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 pound beef sirloin tips, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 shallot

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pinch ground cloves

1/2 cup water

Salt

Hot sauce, to taste

1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped

Heat oven to 350 F.

Spread butter over cut sides of both halves of baguettes. Set baguettes, cut side up, in oven to warm.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat oil. Add beef and sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside off heat.

In a blender combine almond butter, tomatoes, garlic, shallot, cocoa powder, cinnamon, black pepper, pepper flakes, cloves and water. Puree until smooth, then add to beef.

Bring beef and sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Season beef with salt and hot sauce, then divide it among serving plates. Top with scallions. Accompany with the warmed baguette.

Nutrition information per serving: 670 calories; 400 calories from fat (60 percent of total calories); 45 g fat (16 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 120 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 33 g protein; 810 mg sodium.