Saturday, 20 November 2010

Cattle Decapitation

I seriously need to invest in a new camera.  Oh well, not long until Christmas I suppose.

Say what you like about British food, you can't knock our top quality beef, and everyone loves a good steak dinner.  Yes, I know you've heard this a thousand times before, but make sure you get a good quality steak from an independent butcher that's been hung for 21-28 days (the steak I mean, not the butcher, though that would be N3CR0 and Br00T@L).  This recipe will serve four people.


  • 4 awesome sirloin steaks
  • 4 medium-large old potatoes
  • 2 white onions
  • 225g butter (yes you read that correctly) plus a few knobs for basting
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 eggs
  • Some plain flour (doesn't need to be precise but you need a fair amount)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 4 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 4-8 garlic cloves (depending on the size), smashed
  • A handful of tarragon sprigs
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • Some vegetable oil
  • Salt and loads of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Stick the oven on at 210 degrees.
  2. Make the chips - clean your potatoes and cut them into eight wedges, leaving the skin on.  Put them in a saucepan full of cold, lightly salted water and bring them to the boil for a few minutes.  Drain the water, season them, sprinkle them with a little bit of flour, then shake them about in the saucepan.  Put them skin side down in roasting trays and drizzle them with vegetable oil, then roast them for 35 minutes until they're golden and crispy.
  3. Make the sauce - finely dice the shallots.  Remove the leaves from the tarragon sprigs and chop the stalks finely.  Heat 3 tbsps of the vinegar in a pan, add the shallots and parsley stalks and reduce by a third.  Beat the egg yolks in a bain marie and strain the vinegar reduction into them (that means "use a sieve so the herbs and shallot pieces don't go into the sauce" - you're just using them for flavour here), mixing it in.  Let it cool a little.  Melt the ridiculous amount of butter in a frying pan.  Put the bain marie over some simmering water (not too hot - you don't want scrambled eggs) and whisk the egg yolks vigorously until they've gone lighter and thicker, then *slowly* trickle the butter into the egg yolk mix as you're still whisking until you've got a nice thick sauce.  Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard and tarragon leaves and season to taste.
  4. Make the onion rings - heat some oil in a wok or deep fat fryer on a medium-high heat.  Peel the onions and slice them into rings.  Beat the eggs, add a drop of cold water and stir in some flour a little at a time until you have a nice thick batter, then season the mixture.  Put some more flour in a separate bowl.  Dip the onion rings in the flour and then the batter, making sure they're nicely covered, and deep fry them for a few minutes until they're golden brown - you may need to do this in batches.  Remove them to a plate and let the fat drain onto some kitchen paper.
  5. Cook your steaks - you want a couple of frying pans for this on a high heat - don't use more than two steaks per pan.  When it's very hot, add a little olive oil, season your steaks on one side with salt and plenty of pepper and put them in the pan, seasoned-side down.  They should sizzle vigorously on contact - if they don't, take them out immediately and wait for the oil to get hotter.  Season the other side of the steak just before turning - this method helps to keep the steak from drying out.  Cooking times vary according to the thickness of your steak - I did two minutes per side for mine for medium rare, so if you want it rare I'd do it for a minute-a minute and a half and if you want it well done I'd do it for three-four minutes per side - you can also prod it with your finger as well-done steaks will be quite firm to the touch.  You only want to turn the steaks once each.  About thirty seconds after you've flipped your steak, add some butter to the pan and the garlic cloves, and baste the steaks with the pan juices.
  6. Serve the dish - Take your steak out when it's done to your liking and wrap it in foil (repeat for the others obviously) so that it can rest for a couple of minutes - this relaxes the meat and makes it more tender to eat.  Add a drop of red wine vinegar to the pans you cooked the steaks in to de-glaze them and get all those lovely meaty juices.  Put your onion rings and chips on the plate, then carve the steak, put it on the plate, drizzle the pan juices over it and pour on a generous helping of your Bearnaise sauce.
Enjoy with a glass of red wine or good beer, and keep a crusty bread roll on hand to mop up the sauce!

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