Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Perfect Pan-Fried Steak & Potato Mash

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).

So juicy...

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
Fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme
Olive oil

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.



  1. You had me at steak and mash! What an interesting way to cook steak. This looks so freaking delicious Lily! Rosemary and beef are made for one another.

    I want one of Heston Blumenthal's cookbooks!

  2. Thanks Phuoc! Oh rosemary and beef... I wish they'd run away together and come back with illegitimate love children.

  3. Nice one! Perfect winter dish!

  4. im craving a huge bucket of mash now mmm

  5. I cringed when you mentioned the partially boiled steak... but this is interesting and worth trying out! Hee hee I have been watching a lot of Heston recently too wheeee

  6. Agree that the par-boiling goes against what we know about cooking meat but, then again, Heston Blumenthal is a controlled mad-scientist and never ceases to amaze me!

  7. don't you love food laziness that leads to divine inspiration? steak and mash is my favourite kinda dinner!

  8. that's a very interesting way to cook a steak. i must try one day as i'm always trying to achieve a tender steak and don't have a bbq so only have a pan. the mash seems quite involved and has a lot of butter. i tend to just keep it a lot simpler and boil up some potatoes and then drain then mash up and add a bit of butter and salt. to make it smoother you could always just put it in a blender then. :-)

  9. But but but... in my food safety seminar as a dining hall supervisor, they told us that the only two ways to safely thaw meat are a)running under cold water and b)in the fridge. Otherwise there are some rather nasty basteria, said my boss.

    I make steak in pans also, though, can't argue with you there.

  10. @Richard
    Yay Hestonmania!

    Heston actually cooks his steak slowly over 24 hours at 50°C in the oven. I might try it when I have the time.

    Yes! Love it when accidents work my way.

    Haha I'm pretty sure I'll only be doing mash this way on special occasions. Took so much time.

    Yeah, I know, pretty shameful that I thawed meat that way. But this steak was boiled from room temperature, not frozen, so it's okay :)

  11. Haha....that sounds like something I would do! Only my mistakes never turn out so good.....