17 Feb steak with crispy spuds
People tend to get a bit worked up around steak, and particularly about how it should be cooked. “What is the point in having your steak well done?” people shout on Twitter to no one. When it was reported that Donald Trump preferred his steak well done, there were knowing nods across the internet. “Oh, of course he likes his steak well done,” as if his choice of meat were a window into his soul, and that well done steak was proof that we shouldn’t like what we see. The main argument against well done steak is that is said to affect the flavour profile and texture of great meat.
When I first started learning about food, I used to order rare steak in restaurants, in a misguided fit of bravado. “If I’m writing about food,” I’d say to myself, “I simply must order the weirdest food cooked the most hardcore way.” Steak isn’t weird but being faced with a fully blue piece of steak feels a bit hardcore. A couple of steaks in I realised, though I love raw meat when it’s served as tartare for example, I didn’t like the texture of rare steak.
I DON’T LIKE RARE STEAK! It’s quite liberating actually to confess this to you. My perfect steak spot is medium, just on the side of rare. I want it pink but I also want that plenty of that deep juicy caramelisation on the outside, known as the Maillard reaction, and that takes a bit of time.
My point is your dinner belongs to you. I would suggest trying a rare steak in a great restaurant, one that prides itself on being excellent with meat. See if you like it. Do the same with medium and even well done. Maybe you prefer your steak well done. And you know what? It’s a free world (for the moment anyway) so don’t let anyone tell you how you should eat your dinner. It’s yours, after all.
This week, I’m sharing an economical supper where one large piece of steak is shared between two people. The cooking method below will garner you a medium rare steak but feel free to cook it the way you like it. To accompany this steak, I’ve made some very moreish crispy potatoes and a deliciously speedy roast tomato salsa as a sauce.
Steak with Crispy Spuds
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
3 large vine tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 large potato
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 large piece of steak, such as sirloin
1. Pre-heat the oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7. Slice the tomatoes in half and place in roasting dish. Slice the bulb of garlic in half and place the two halves around the tomatoes. Add the rosemary sprigs to the dish and drizzle everything with some olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes, until starting the tomatoes have started to blister and sizzle.
2. Meanwhile, peel the potato and finely slice it into rounds. Use a pastry brush to coat each slice of potato in olive oil. Place the potato slices in one layer in a roasting dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Pick the leaves from the fresh sprig of thyme and sprinkle over the potatoes. Set aside until your tomatoes are ready.
3. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Turn the oven down to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Place the potatoes in the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crispy, golden and cooked through.
4. Place into your blender or food processor. Select two or three loose garlic cloves that were roasting along with your tomatoes. They should be lightly roasted. Peel them and finely dice them before adding to the blender or food processor. Add the red wine vinegar, the salt and the sugar and blitz the tomatoes. It will be a similar consistency to a pesto, but a little more watery.
5. Heat a bit of sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Season the piece of steak with salt and pepper. For a medium rare steak, when the pan is hot fry the steak on both sides for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the steak rest in the hot pan for another 10 minutes.
6. Slice the steak into pieces. Serve on a platter with some of the tomato salsa spooned over the top and the rest served on the side. Transfer the skinny, crispy potatoes to a plate. Some steamed broccoli or kale would be lovely on the side, too.
Storecupboard Essential: Thyme
Thyme, whether fresh or dried, is a herb that is a constant in my kitchen life. I prefer fresh thyme but dried thyme is a very handy one to have in the cupboard. If you don’t have fresh thyme, use dried thyme in this recipe. Just sprinkle a generous pinch, about half a teaspoon, over the spuds.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on 16th of February 2017