Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Perfect Steak: it's not rocket science

There was a time in my life when I was irrationally frightened of cooking steak.  Not being a huge red meat eater, I'd had limited opportunities to practice; and to be honest I wasn't that interested seeing as the rare (get it?) times I eat it, is usually when someone else cooks it for me.  I'm one of those occasional meat eaters who should probably go vegetarian and recognises all of the benefits to the body, the animal and the environment; but is a bit too lazy to make the transition.  (Before you silently judge me, I do go for free-range and local produce so I'm not a complete monster).

My conundrum is that I live with a total carnivore now.  I'm talking an outdoorsy, meat-n-three-veg, protein-obsessed, Aussie Bloke.  So in order to maintain a happy union, we've both had to compromise, expand our respective repertoires and be more flexible with our eating habits.  For example, chickpea curry and spicy rice translates into chicken curry with chickpeas and boiled rice with chilli on the side.  Salad becomes thai beef salad.  Dhal is laced with chorizo or at least accompanies some grilled sausages.   And meat + veg becomes ... meat + veg.

I'm sorry but for all my vegetable-worship I'm not a fan of meat substitute products.  So when the occasion calls for a steak and I'm in the mood, I throw caution to the wind and give it a go.  But of course, I'm not one for tradition and have banned "bland" from my kitchen, so here's my version of meat and veg:

Garlic Butter Steak and Smashed Sweet Potato (serves 2):

-  two thick-cut eye fillet or scotch fillet steaks
-  one clove garlic (crushed)
- 50g salted butter (softened but not melted)
- one large sweet potato
- handful of green beans
- fresh herbs from the garden, chopped (whatever you've got - I used sage)
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- 2 tsp sour cream
- 1/2 cup verjuice, or white wine (or something else acidic, i.e. lemon juice)

Press half the chopped herbs over both sides of the steaks, leave in fridge until ready to cook. 

Put the crushed garlic and half the herbs into a small bowl and combine with a fork.  Roll into a log on some cling wrap, wrap it up tight and place in the freezer.

Peel and chop the sweet potato into 2cm chunks, spread out on a baking tray and toss in olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper.  Bake in a 190C oven for 35-40 minutes, or until soft and browned.

Take the steaks and pat them dry with paper towels.  This is important - if you don't dry the steak it won't brown properly.  Then, rub all over lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place into a hot pan.  Cook first side for 6 minutes, then reduce the heat slightly and do the other side for about 4 minutes.  This will give you a "medium" done steak.  Once cooked, take out of the pan and cover with foil, rest for about 3-5 minutes.

While the pan is still hot, throw in the green beans and deglaze with the verjuice/wine/lemon juice to lift all of the lovely steak flavour off the pan.  Shake the pan to move the beans, until the veg is cooked slightly - then add any juices that have come out of the resting steaks.  Once all liquid has evaporated, take the pan off the heat.

Meanwhile put the sweet potatoes into a bowl, and mash roughly with a fork - don't completely pulverise them as you want some of the black/brown colours to remain as well as some texture.  Take the garlic & herb butter out of the freezer and slice some off, add to the potato and stir through.

To plate up, put some sweet potato on the plate and top with sour cream, then add steak & beans, then top with a slice of the garlic herb butter.  Serve with some token salad.

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