Today was all about the steak. Confession time. I rarely eat steak. I might occasionally order one in a restaurant and about once a year I have a feeling-tired-maybe-I-need-some-red-meat moment, but I have to say they’re few and far between. So understanding the different cuts of steak, how to prep them and then how to cook them is an area I’d love to feel more confident in.
On Friday in demo Rachel showed us where to find and how to extract two different cuts (the fillet and the sirloin) from a rather large piece of beef. After some nifty butchery, she then showed us different ways of cooking them. From (a slightly scary looking) well done steak, to one that had said much more of a quick hello to the searing hot griddle pan.
Accompanying the steaks (well – on my order of work anyway) was one of the classic sauces, a Bearnaise, pommes allumettes, fresh chard and ratatouille. (I also managed to whip up a little brown soda seeded loaf that we first learnt all the way back in week 1!) So, lots to do.
The beef we had to cook with was beautiful. Aged for about 9 weeks, it was a deep, rich red colour. A sign of a well fed and well hung animal. We were lucky. It would be hard to make this sort of amazing produce taste bad. Simply rubbed in a cut garlic clove, freshly ground pepper and olive oil an hour before serving to bring them up to room temp, there’s not much adornment they need. (And no salt until just before they hit the hot plate!)
Before we got on with the steak, I got on with my other bits; a highlight being the making, and then the splitting of my Bearnaise sauce. It’s a tricky little fellow featuring egg yolks, butter and lots of that mysterious fresh, lemony and slightly aniseedy tarragon flavour. (Tangent: Despite being so popular in French cooking I feel like tarragon is a herb that’s passed me by a bit. Beyond going in cream sauces, what else is it good at? Where has it been? I like the flavour – it needs more investigation.) Anyway, after reducing down shallots, vinegar and white wine you start whisking egg yolks and blobs of butter in bit by bit. The sauce has got to get hot but not so hot that the egg yolks freak out and split, which is bad news for the Bearnaise. There’s this kind of wavy technique where as you’re whisking you move the pan on and off the heat… but clearly I got a bit distracted and all of a sudden; split Bearnaise. Luckily Tracie (my teacher this week) was on hand to help me perform emergency Bearnaise resuscitation.
Technique 1) Pour split sauce into a blender and blitz. (This kind of makes me laugh, it’s like trying to scare it back into submission “ok sauce, you want to split? Well take that”) Needless to say it didn’t seem to work so we moved onto:
Technique 2) Start a new emulsion and slowly whisk your split sauce into your new one. And this worked! The new emulsion was another egg yolk, some water and a blob of butter. This was mixed together in the cooled pan and the split sauce blobbed in bit by bit.
Result. Happy Bearnaise.
Everything had to be ready before the steaks went on to cook. As Tracie so rightly said: “mise en place is your friend Fiona”. Every detail is (or should be!) thought through and prepared, so when you’re ready to go – you go. Pot with salted boiling water ready for chard, utensils correctly placed, paper towels ready to drain the matchstick potatoes, serving dishes warmed…. it’s always thinking multiple steps ahead.
So one hot griddle pan and 3 mins on each side later my beautiful steak was ready.
So my dishes of the day.
This afternoon we finished early and I went out for another run. It was a wonderful Spring-is-really-here sunny afternoon
And tomorrow morning I’m making souffle! Then we head to Italy for an afternoon of pasta making. #happyplace