Monday, January 31, 2011

Steak + Bread = Awesome!

Mathematics was never my strong point in school. To the extent I can say with a weird sense of achievement that for the entirety of fifth year (for those reading across the pond that's the second-last year of high school. . . . .also there's a 'u' in colour) I, without exception, failed every single test. In one rather spectacular moment of ineptness I was put in detention, after one where the only marks my teacher could award me were that I'd managed to correctly spell my name. But as I'm and lefty (and damn proud!) and have the writing of an angry 10 year old, even that was put under scrutiny. The ironic footnote to this is that I changed teachers in sixth year where, lo and behold I became one of the top students. And while I can't say that the subject has made a direct impact on my day to day life. You find that life contains numerous simplistic equations that you learn and live by. For example, if x = work and y = coffee:  x - y = Hell! Also if a = cats and b = the Internet then realistically a + b = YouTube. And then there's my personal and somewhat embittered favorite. Which brings us to this post which is the subject of another infallible equation.

There are some things in life, that even in their worst incarnation, are still capable of delivering a level of satisfaction within the ballpark of what their very best version could deliver. Having said that they're are those that unless it's anywhere near half-decent quality it's not worth your time. I mentioned this train of thought to my flat mate who totally understood what I meant, and then gave an example that I'm pretty sure even I can't share ('I'm telling ya man, if she doesn't know what she's doing it's just a waste of time.')

Something that falls into the former, along with fish and chips, ice cream and vodka, is the steak sandwich (not together). Because when you have a slab of red meat between two pieces of bread, there's no way that the result will anything but awesome.

Okay recipe time, but as it's basically a sandwich I think I can trust you to do your own thing. The only thing is something  I call Bacon Onion Gravy Relish Thing. It's something I came up with when I had Yorkshire Puddings in the oven, it wasn't Sunday and there was nothing else going with them, I was just in the kind of. . . . .mood where you're standing in the middle of the kitchen and you suddenly realise that if you don't have a plateful of Yorkshires in the next half hour you're probably going to harm yourself. Then my flat mate. . . . . .who was also in a similar mood, clasped his hands over his head and, 'Oh no, we've no gravy!' 'Shit you're right!' So this was what came about, a case of just throwing stuff into a pot until it tasted good. Shockingly it actually does. Also, recently I made this using half chicken stock, half braising juices from my soy pork belly, which was awesome, as was rubbing the steak in the same spice rub. But anyway here's a rundown of how I put mine together:

I used a rib eye steak, my personal fav in terms of both flavour and texture. I subscribe to the Heston-endorsed Harold McGee method of steak cookery, whereby you pre-heat the nuts off your pan, drop in your steak and turn every 20-30 seconds. Because you turn it so frequently the heat is retained on the exposed side and continues to cook on both sides, rather then cooling down and then having to get back up to temp, which is what happens when you've only turning it every couple of minutes. The advantage of this is two-fold. Firstly, it cooks in no time. I once had a steak go from raw to well-done in only 5-6 turns. Secondly, because it cooks so quickly and therefore been exposed to heat for a shorter amount of time, it retains more moisture. So in short, a juicier steak in less time. Try also with pork chops and burgers, but wouldn't recommend it with fish and chicken.
Take it out and let it rest (simply the MOST important aspect of meat cookery) on a plate for about the same amount of time you cooked it. In the same pan you cooked the steak in throw in 2 -3 mushrooms for per person and a clove of chopped garlic. Cook with a little bit of butter. As this is going on toast your bread. I used a round pita, but that's because I always have pita breads, in fact I only ever have pita bread. But here anyway they worked like gangbusters. Before assembly, pour the resting juices from the steak into the gravy/relish for full cheffy utilisation.

Assembly went: garlic mayo - lettuce - gravy/relish - steak - mushrooms - sliced spring onions - small grating of Parmesan, just to give a savoury kick.

Right now I'm going to break food blogger's protocol, as this where you'd usually say 'serve with nice salad of x, y and z' or with homemade potato wedges. But no, on this night it was McCain's frozen best. That's right, from the freezer to the oven, half an hour later and you've got near-passable chips. Not a garlic clove, Rosemary sprig or drizzle of olive oil in sight! Would Donal Skehan approve? No, but Donal Skehan isn't making dinner at half 11 at night after working a 10 hour shift with a hangover that could pacify half of fucking Cairo.

Bacon Onion Gravy Relish Thing:

1 Red onion, sliced
2 Rashers of bacon, cut into lardons
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp Plain Flour
1 tsp Tomato Puree
1 tsp Dried Tarragon
200ml-300ml approx Chicken stock/water with 1/4 of a stock cube
2 tbsp Ballymole Relish
1tsp English Mustard
  1. In a pot fry the bacon on a high heat with a little oil until it starts to colour.
  2. Add garlic and onions, turn heat down and sweat for a few minutes till soft.
  3. Add flour, herbs and puree, stir for a minute or two.
  4. Pour in stock, stir well till thickened
  5. Stir in condiments. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. If it gets too thick just add water or more stock. Ultimatley you're looking for a ketchup-like thickness.
Enjoy peoples!

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