Jeffrey Fournier’s Watermelon “Steak”

By Yankee Magazine

Mar 26 2020


Jeffrey Fournier’s Grilled Watermelon “Steak”

Photo Credit : Heath Robbins

Long before chef Jeffrey Fournier sold his two Boston-area restaurants and moved with his family to New Hampshire, he became famous for his watermelon steak. Yes, you read that correctly. His signature dish, first served at 51 Lincoln, his former restaurant in Newton, Massachusetts, was a sweet-savory cut of watermelon that was doused in butter, cream sherry, and spices, then slow-roasted to give it a dense, even meaty texture. It was a sensation, garnering critical praise from every corner.

So when Jeffrey and his wife and business partner, Kate, took over the Thompson House Eatery in Kate’s hometown of Jackson, the steak came along with them. We visited the couple last fall for a segment in a Season 4 Weekends with Yankee episode, and got to enjoy the watermelon once more.

I love this dish. The fruit is so transformed by its seasoning and long roasting time, that I didn’t think it was something that could be produced in a home kitchen. I thought it must require some kind of industrial-grade steam press or vacuum system. But no, it’s just basic cooking techniques, imaginatively applied.


1 medium watermelon (10 to 12 inches long)
3 cups cream sherry
2 sticks salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
Grapeseed or other neutral oil, for cooking


Preheat your oven to 350°F and set a rack to the middle position. Cut your watermelon crosswise into two 5- to 6-inch-thick slices. Remove the rind from each slice.

Arrange the slices in a large baking dish. Pour the sherry over the watermelon, then dot with the butter cubes. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons kosher salt and pepper over all. Cover the pan with a sheet of parchment paper, then cover that with a sheet of aluminum foil to seal. Bake the watermelon “steaks” for 3 hours, rotating the pan once every hour, then cool completely.

Meanwhile, toast the coriander and fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and a shade or two darker, 2 to 4 minutes. Grind the spices together in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and stir.

Cut each watermelon steak into quarters. Rub the spice mix over the cooled steaks.

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of oil. Working in batches, set three steaks down in the pan to sear on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining steaks, adding oil to the pan as needed. Serve warm, sprinkled with feta, fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, or other toppings of your choice.