Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Steak & chips

There are some days when only red meat will do. While you could argue for roast lamb or slow-braised osso bucco, for me, on those red meat days, it really just has to be a steak. There is something about cutting a slice off a big hunk of dark red meat, slightly crusted on the outside but yielding in the middle, that is deeply satisfying.

I hardly ever order steak in restaurants because we cook steaks at home better than most of them do and, it has to be said, at a more reasonable price.
Notable exceptions, where the steaks are always good: the Rose & Crown in Harefield, Gaucho in Hampstead and Hawksmoor (my new favourite).

How you take your steak is very personal, it has as many variations as how you take your tea. The cut, thickness, the precise degree of doneness, the seasoning: all must be judged to a nicety. And that is without addressing the question of sauces, marinades and rubs. My sister in law, for example, loves steak. But if you were to serve her a lovely rare t-bone, with the outer edge of fat melting and the inner flesh just warmed, she would run away screaming. Her steak is a filet, not too large, cooked beyond medium but not absolutely well done.
Until recently I would have said I was a confirmed rib-eye girl, with sirloin as a back up. I like a strong beef flavour, but "melt in the mouth" is not really a selling point. While I have all my own teeth I want to take advantage of them and enjoy a steak I can actually bite, although I don't want meat so stringy that I need toothpicks at the table. Rib-eye has a nice balance of flavour and texture, plus it is usually the mid-priced steak which is good.

Then, I discovered the onglet. I can't remember what triggered it, but Paul announced that he was interested in trying some of the more obscure steak cuts. He felt it was a challenge to his skill as the family's chief wielder of fire and knives to take on a cut that is often described as difficult to cook.

When I went to place my order, I was delighted to discover that onglet is actually very affordable, which was pretty damn exciting in these economic times, but it also added an incentive for cooking it nicely.

As we'd decided to push the boat out on a steak dinner, we felt that it should be really, really nice. Our potatoes were pretty much the only outdoor crop that worked for us this year, so home grown maris piper chips seemed to fit the bill. Skin on, blanched for a minute in boiling water then allowed to dry out a bit before being fried twice in duck fat (once at 120C and once at 180C), then sprinkled with salt and chopped rosemary, these chips were superb. Particularly since I'd never made chips from scratch before...

We opened a bottle of wine from the cellar. In the years we've been carrying it around it had developed into something much finer than anticipated, all butterscotch and soft cherries.

The steaks were cooked for 4 minutes a side in a hot blue steel pan (Paul wants me to say good things about his pan. He really likes it) then seasoned simply with salt and pepper and allowed to rest with some finely diced red onion pressed into the surface (would have been shallots if I'd had any) while we made an onion and red wine reduction to serve with them. We sliced the steaks across the grain to serve them.

They weren't melt in the mouth, but they were much more tender than I had anticipated, with an excellent, long beef flavour. This is now definitely my go-to steak at home, but it is more challenging to cook than a regular steak, so it'll take a while before I order one in a restaurant.

16 comments:

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I'm not very familiar with all the different cuts of steak, but I'm always up for giving unusual ones a try, especially if they're affordable! This onglet sounds like a pretty decent find.

iva | in my kitchen said...

my hubby loves a good ol' steak! I wonder if I can make this without the wine in it...will it still taste good?

Gsp said...

If you like Hawksmoor, you should try Goodman (one in Mayfair, and one near Bank in The City). I think it's at least as good as Hawksmoor (possibly better), with even better accompaniments (such as red wine & stilton sauce, truffle chips, etc.)

Anonymous said...

like you, onglet's quickly become one of my faves. ELSC do a good line in onglet from their own hand picked dexter cattle - well worth a try...

http://www.eastlondonsteak.co.uk/

Quay Po Cooks said...

Good to know about this cut of steak. I have not seen any sold in the supermarket here.

Angie's Recipes said...

Juicy and tender..the steak is perfectly prepared.

Foodycat said...

Leafy - they are a bit hard to come by, but delicious!

Iva - you can use any sauce you like if you don't want to use alcohol! A nice herb butter or a mushroom sauce would be lovely.

GSP - I've been meaning to try Goodman.

Anon - yep, these were ELSCO. The first batch I had were Dexter, the most recent were Highland, I think.

Quay Po - I think you'd need to go to a butcher for them, rather than the supermarket.

wildtomato said...

The onglet is the only cut we cook at home. We cook ours with a shallot, peppercorns, and a red wine reduction. And of course, it has to be rare, rare, rare! Like you, I don't order steak out because we do a much better job at home and the markup on a good steak is insane.

grace said...

do you ever wonder if vegetarians are somehow missing the most basic of all enjoyments by eschewing meat (red meat in particular)? we were made omnivorous for a reason! good eats, foodycat. good eats. :)

highplainsdrifters said...

i'm a bit of a red meat snob. i love a good steak, but half trouble with just a better-than-average one. the irony is, i have no idea what cut is what. need to hit the books. thanks for the tip!

Mary said...

Very interesting. I was not familiar with this cut of steak. Your photos make it most appealing. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

tori said...

I love onglet- they sell a great one down at the Ginger Pig. And this post has made me crave steak more. Last time we did it on the fire bbq with a chimichurri- but I think shallots and duck fat chips sound much more civilised.

Joanne said...

You know, I never really had that intense connection or craving for steak which is why I think I don't crave meat ever now that I've stopped eating it. But i definitely recognize there are many who do!

tasteofbeirut said...

I would love one of these meals one day! I never make steak at home, don't know why, but i love it once in a while with a good bottle! Thanks for the inspiration!

Foodycat said...

Wild tomato - the markup is definitely part of it! If they use good meat then you are looking at £25+ for a steak in a restaurant, and we can only occasionally afford that!

Grace - Thanks!

Steve - I think in the US this is known as a hanger steak. Have a go!

Mary - it's so tricky to know what cuts are called what in different countries!

Tori - we've had a couple barbecued over charcoal as well. Amazing flavour!

Joanne - you are lucky. I love the idea of being vegetarian or vegan, but I just couldn't do it.

Joumana - you cook so many other delicious things, I'm not surprised you don't have time to cook steak.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I am not familiar with the onglet--but it sure looks yummy. You have me craving steak now--whoops!
;-)

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