Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Steak night! Peppered steak, potato wedges and the trimmings

Vegetarians might be advised to skip over this entry, though the wedges will go with anything.

Former Smiths front-man, longstanding vegetarian and twat*, Morrissey, stopped a festival show at Coachella, California in 2009 because he said "the smell of burning flesh is making me sick". Personally, I find the smell of burning flesh generally makes me feel fucking hungry rather than nauseous and it doesn't get any more orexigenic than the smell of searing steak. A good piece of steak really doesn't need much more than seasoning to make it fantastic. However, thanks to the queen of TV chefs and the GILF of modern cuisine, Delia Smith, this recipe makes a good thing great. Of course, this recipe was taken from a more innocent time when when the fondu set was the height of sophistication, Vesta curries were regarded as exotic food/foreign muck (depending on your POV) and Delia herself was such a young slip of a girl, she was a merely a MILF (do I need to put a link in for this, after the one for GILF? Isn't it fucking obvious?) and I have updated it a little. It was also before this happened:

Fucking chips! As Kevin Kline's character said in A Fish Called Wanda: "the English contribution to world cuisine: the chip". Go to any regular/"family" pub and whatever you order will be served with fucking chips. You can have shepherd's pie which is generously topped with mashed potato and they still serve that with fucking chips. Even, in the north of England, if you sample some of the delights of exotic oriental cuisine you get them with fucking chips. Lamb shish kebab WITH FUCKING CHIPS! Chicken tikka masala WITH FUCKING CHIPS! Sweet and sour fucking chicken WITH FUCKING CHIPS! The humble and overworked chip does have a time and a place, however. There is little better than enjoying good fish and chips on a windy seafront, or a tray of chips slathered in gravy as you walk down the street. More relevantly, a great steak is so much better when it's got a side order of chips. As anyone will tell you, real chips are hand cut and deep fried which is a bit awkward since deep frying is a regal pain in the arse. Also, as much as I loath to bring healthy eating into this blog, real chips are relatively high in fat. A great alternative is this recipe for potato wedges which are baked with a generous covering of oil and turn out like a cross between baked potatoes and deep-fried chunky chips.

*Just to be clear, these two qualities are not in any way related. I have many family members and friends that I love dearly who are vegetarian - indeed, I was vegetarian myself for a short while as a student - and many meat eaters who are such twats I wouldn't waste a full bladder on in the vanishingly remote possibility that it might prevent their nasty and painful death from spontaneous human combustion.

2 steaks (personally I like ribeye or sirloin, but rump is also great)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp black pepper corns
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Dash Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp English mustard
Half a glass of red wine (about 100ml)

500g potatoes, washed but not peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch mixed herbs
A good pinch of salt (to taste)
Lots of black pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 big portobello mushrooms, whole (you could use big field mushrooms or a few regular small mushrooms)
1 onion, sliced

Tomatoes (depends on size, but 1 medium one each or more if they are smaller)

Crack the black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Alternatively, if you're not as big of a foodie wanker as me, you can put them in a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin for the same effect. Add these to a large, flat dish (big enough to lay both steaks down flat) and pour in the olive oil, garlic, Tabasco and mustard then mix. Place the steaks into the mixture and turn them over in order to give both a nice coating of pepper. Repeat a few times until they are both well studded with the peppercorn fragments. Cover the dish with clingfilm and leave on the side for at least an hour or two before you want to cook them. It is important that they are left at room temperature.

Steaks marinating

For the wedges, cut the potatoes lengthwise into thick chunks, or wedges, and dry them with kitchen roll. Throw them into a roasting dish and sprinkle on the rest of the ingredients. Toss the wedges so they all get an even coating of the mixture. Preheat an oven to 180 and put the wedges in for 45 minutes, turning them half way through. At the same time as putting the wedges in the oven, put the tomatoes in a shallow ovenproof dish and put them in the oven at the same time. As an alternative, you could actually just griddle the tomatoes at the same time as the steak but roasted tomatoes have so much more intense and concentrated flavour.

Potato wedges before cooking

Potato wedges cooked and ready to serve

Add a little oil to a frying or a griddle pan and fry the onions, long and slow, (OK, 5-10 minutes, so not that slow) on a fairly low heat. If they get too dry, add a splash of water to keep them moist. Add the mushrooms and fry them gently on either side along with the onion. When they're done, remove them and keep them on the side.

A good couple of minutes before it's time to cook the steaks, stick the same pan on to heat. Once it's nice and hot, throw on one of the slabs of meat. There is no need to add oil to the pan because the steaks are already oiled from the marination. Obviously, cooking steak depends a lot on how you like them between rare to crucified (and if it has to be very well done you have no business reading a food blog you fucking philistine), and how thick they are, so this step is about trial an error. Pressing the steak will give you an idea: the softer, the less done. As a rough guide 2-3 minutes per side will make it rare, 5 minutes for medium. Any more than that and I'll deal with you later, see below.

When cooked to your required level of doneness, put the steaks on their serving plates and leave to rest for a few minutes, adding a little salt to both after a minute or two. Meanwhile, turn down the heat on the hob and return the mushrooms and onions to the pan for a minute or two then throw in the red wine to wash out the pan. plate up the mushroom and pour the rest of the pan's contents onto the steaks. Serve up the wedges and tomatoes and eat, washed down with the rest of the red wine.

Steak night! All ready to eat

Steak is truly wonderful, but only if it's not overcooked. Personally, my instructions for a perfectly done steak are "wipe its arse and walk it onto the plate", or "blue" if I'm in a restaurant amongst polite company. However, if the steak is taken out of the fridge just before it's cooked, rather than being cooked from room temperature, a blue steak will be cold in the middle (hence the point of stating the marinating steaks are not put back in the fridge). The steak must be at least as warm as it was when the animal was slaughtered, in my opinion. However, blue isn't for everyone but it should be at least pink in the middle (little more than medium-rare). If you like your steak well done, remember that a cow died to give you this piece of itself. It deserves to be treated properly. It needs to be trans-substantiated so it can gambol on your tongue for one last time in the succulent juices of your steak. If there are no juices this isn't going to happen and that herbivore will have chewed it's last cud in vain. Worse still, it will probably be tough as shoe leather and taste like shite.

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