Matt and I started this blog to document the food we cook so our kids have something to refer to when they’ve left home and want to know how to make it the same way. This has lead to all sorts of other tangents and diversions, but here’s one that’s more true to our original intentions.
There’s plenty of ways I do steak – over naked flames, under the grill, in the pressure cooker even (if it’s to be braised), or raw even much to the nose-upturning of my family. This is the most common way though.
I’ve just cooked some rump. That’s what’s in the photo. Rump is good and rump is also reasonably cheap but I’ve been getting excited about other cuts – secret ‘butchers’ cuts. A few times recently I’ve got hold of some feather blade which is supposed to be cooked low and slow, but I discovered that if you cut two steaks either side of the seam of sinew (one above and one below) you get two irregular-shaped steaks that are just superb. Very smooth, very close textured, almost liver-like. I think (but I’m not certain and please correct me if I’m wrong) that one of these steaks is a flat iron, and the other… I don’t know. Help me out butchers. Anyway, they’re great.
So I say experiment. If you go for something odd and it turns out to be a bit too tough then just slice it really thin with a very sharp knife. The flavour will probably be superb as it seems to be that the tougher steaks are usually much tastier.
Pat the meat dry and season it on both sides with salt, or salt and a few other things. I’ve a really cool looking metal tin of Old Bay Seasoning. Though way past the Best Before date its blend of salt, celery salt, paprika and other spices generously sprinkled over the meat seems to really help to tenderise a tougher cut. Once seasoned it needs to be left for about 24 hours uncovered in the fridge on a cooling rack so the air can get all around it.
Something heavy. Cast iron is of course perfect, but equally good is a decent black steel pan. You want something that you can leave, with nothing in it, over the flame for a good five minutes to get really really hot without it buckling or melting, or you getting all worried and panicky and anxious about it. Then it’s just a case of putting it on the heat and leaving it. If it has a metal handle, get yourself a cloth because it will get hot.
In a bowl mix together some thinly sliced garlic, chopped parsley (but do try other herbs: thyme, coriander, rosemary), black pepper, crushed chilli, olive oil, lemon juice and a splash of red wine vinegar. This is basically an Argentinian mix called Chimichurri. Feel free to muck about with it though.
If you’ve got an extractor, put it on full. Or open a window. Or do both. And warn any strict vegetarians that they’re about to get offended/tempted/wistful/conflicted. Take the steak and rub a little oil on the outside, don’t put any in the pan, just on the meat. Then carefully lay it in the pan and leave it alone. It depends on thickness and temperature, but if the steak is about 2cm thick, give it about a minute before turning it over and doing the other side. If there’s a thick layer of fat along the edge it’s worthwhile holding the steak on its edge with your tongs and giving that fat a good minute all to itself. That’s it. If it’s very rare don’t be concerned because it’ll continue to cook a bit while it’s resting.
Resting and Post-Cooking-Marinading:
Remove the steak from the pan and put it on a plate. Spoon over the marinade and cover with an upturned bowl.
Waiting and Other Things:
You could slice some bread and lightly toast it and make the steak into a sandwich. You could throw together a punchy salad of bitter leaves. You could pour yourself a cold beer. You could chop up some onions and mushrooms and fry them in the steak pan even, that’d be nice (it’s what we did the other day). But whatever you do, resist the urge to cut into it for at least five minutes, preferably ten minutes.
Put it on something wooden and sprinkle with salt, Maldon Smoked Sea Salt is good. And treat yourself to a really sharp knife, the sort of knife that if you got it out at the dinner table you’d attract some attention. Enjoy slicing it thinly. It probably won’t need anything else, but mayonnaise or mustard will certainly work with it.
I’m currently touring my absurd comedy/cooking show ‘George Egg: Anarchist Cook’ around the UK. This coming weekend I’m in Sutton and Maidenhead. In a few weeks it’s Bath and then Scotland. Dates and links to tickets are here.