It’s Monday again. Time to get back into the swing of things and earn an honest living! My weekend was pretty full, though I did manage to cook a proper meal at home yesterday complete with a nice bottle, candles and good music. By the way, speaking of music, go to Spotify asap and check out the soundtrack for A Bronx Tale, the 90s movie with Robert De Niro (damn I love him!). It has beautifully mellow tunes and some romantic oldies. Perfect music to unwind to.
Friday again, and a pretty cold and rainy one it is! Whereas a week ago it seemed that fall would never come (geez, I even drank wine at the beach last Sunday!), this week it has definitely started with a vengeance. The heat has been on, t-shirts have been exchanged for sweaters and I’ve had my first eggnog! I was actually telling myself I’d be a good girl and wait until at least Thanksgiving before opening the pack I had in the cupboard, but every time I went in there it just kept calling my name. And so I greedily answered.
It looks like autumn has finally set in. As I type, it’s raining outisde, the leaves of my cherry tree are finally turning, and there’s a different kind of chill in the air that wasn’t there last week (even on those days I had to throw on a sweater before walking Pastis). It’s the kind of chill that definitely announces the end of summer and makes you want to do things like light the fireplace, drink hearty red wines, fill the house with the glow of candles, sip hot apple tea and cook seriously delicious, stick-to-the ribs food. Food infused with a variety of warming spices and rich flavors.
I guess you could say that I’ve become, well, yes, addicted to steak. Not just any steak though, but a properly cooked steak. One that’s so tender it melts in the mouth. I recently had the misfortune of buying a less than perfect steak and believe me, even though the cooking was perfect, nothing could salvage it, or my jaw, which hurt tremendously after chewing just a few bites. A typical case of a craving when my trusted butcher was closed.
In fact, that’s where a good steak begins – from a good source. Basically, the first thing you need to do is find yourself a proper butcher. And by that I mean one that sells high-quality, free-range or organic meat, and one that understands his trade. We can basically consult our butcher for anything or ask for any kind of meat and he’ll gladly help us. Please, please, please try to stay away from those plastic-wrapped meat cuts from the supermarket, unless you’re prepared to be disappointed, just like I was when I had a craving and my butcher was closed. I’m not saying that all meat from the supermarket is bad. They have a very decent selection of organic meat these days – it’s just that if you want a good steak, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Before cooking your steak (we happen to love filet mignon), you’ll want it to come to room temperature, so take it out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking it. Keep in mind that all of these steps I am about to describe are essential if you want juicy, tender results. I know there are some issues with leaving meat out of the fridge or undercooking it, but this method has been used for ages and I’ve eaten my fair share of steaks with no ill effects.
You’ll want your steaks to be nice and dry, so grab some kitchen paper and dry them off on both sides. Next, heat up a large frying pan and add one tablespoon of mild olive oil and 35 grams of good butter (not margarine or butter for frying, just plain, full-fat, good butter). Season the meat on one side with plenty of sea salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper. Once the fat is sizzling, add your meat and turn down the heat just a little. I like my meat medium-rare, so therefore I’ll give each side about two to three minutes. Depending on your meat’s thickness and your liking, you’ll probably need to give them about 2 to 5 minutes a side. More than that and you’ll be giving your jaw an unnecessary workout.
Try not to touch the meat a lot while it’s cooking. The next step is to turn the meat over. Now whatever you do, do not turn your meat over with a fork! You’ll risk losing precious juices! Instead, use a pair of tongs. Make sure you season the other side of the meat and give it the same amount of time as the first side.
If you want, at this point your steak is almost ready to eat. The hardest part is the 3 to 4 minute resting time. This ensures that the juices spread out nicely inside the meat.
We love a good wine gravy with our steak, so here’s what I do. Once the steaks are cooked, remove them from the pan, put them on a plate and cover them with aluminium foil. Lower the heat to medium and add 100ml of red wine to the pan. Stand back as it might platter a bit! Now add a clove or two of roughly chopped garlic (we like bite), a good teaspoon of grainy mustard (we love truffle mustard) and a small knob of butter.
Bring the heat back up a little and let this reduce while you stir. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes, enough time for your meat to rest. Pour these heavenly pan juices over the meat and serve. I definitely think you’ll want to serve this with the best bread you can get your hands on, or with some thick-cut chips. A salad with a homemade vinaigrette and you’ll be feeling as though you’re eating at a French bistro in Paris! Oh, and don’t forget to add a nice bottle of Bordeaux to go with your meal!