The other night, I was in a Nigella mood: I wanted my food fast without the tediousness of cooking things the “proper way”. Only, I took short cuts that would offend chefs and quite frankly, I appalled myself.
You see, instead of thawing frozen meat, I just put it in a bowl and poured boiling water over it. To make it worse, it was steak. By the time it had defrosted through, the outside had started to cook. I was really irked out but I continued cooking it like normal. I wanted to cry, thinking that I’d ruined a perfectly good piece of meat.
That is, until I tasted it.
It was the juiciest, most tender and meatiest-tasting steak I’d ever cooked on the pan! I can’t explain it – all my culinary knowledge about meat points against boiling steak – but it was almost perfect. I do know that kosher meat is boiled to draw out blood and impurities and supposedly this leaves a more refined meat taste. Also, I guess gently cooking the outside of the steak means that it won’t seize up on contact with a hot pan. Either way, this is a fool-proof method for making an excellent steak at home (without a grill or woodfire oven).
Inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s way of cooking, I fiddled around a bit to find the best way to parboil steak before pan-frying. Took a while to fine-tune but I’m very happy with this recipe.
1 steak (make sure it’s a cut that’s suitable for grilling or pan-frying)
2 cloves garlic
Put steak in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Slowly bring to 55°C and simmer at the same temperature for 15 minutes. (This is the temperature commonly used for a sous-vide and the idea is to make it hot enough to draw out the blood but not hot enough for the meat to tense up.)
Remove and rest until cool.
Dry well with paper towels, pressing on the steak to soak up excess blood.
Rub olive oil, 1 clove crushed garlic, salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat pan to a very high heat and cook steak for 3 minutes on each side.
Remove and place on a plate or chopping board and immediately dress with olive oil, crushed garlic and chopped rosemary and thyme.
Rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Of course, you must have steak with mash. I never really felt the urge to blog about mash until I saw Heston Blumenthal make the ultimate potato mash on “In Search of Perfection”. The recipe was so ingenious and well thought out that I must share.
1 kg potatoes
300g unsalted butter, cubed
Wash, peel and slice potatoes into even pieces (about 1 inch). Cover with cold water in a pot. Slowly bring to 70°C and simmer at the same temperature for 30 minutes. (This locks in the glutens so that the mash isn’t gluey.)
Drain and place potato slices in iced water.
Wash the pot, refill with water, add salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and add potatoes (and 3 cloves of garlic if you like garlic in your mash). Simmer until potatoes are tender.
Drain and place potatoes and garlic back in the pot. Shake the pot gently over a low heat to completely dry.
Push potatoes and garlic through a potato ricer into a bowl with butter.
Push through a drum sieve for a finer consistency (optional).
Put back into pot, adding salt and cream to taste. Whisk well over a low heat until light and fluffy.