Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Variation on a Steak

As much as I like steak in a restaurant I love it even better when I cook it at home. I’m yet to encounter my perfect steak meal when dining out. More on that a little bit later.

The closest to perfection in my opinion was the steak I had at Embers in Milton. It was so good there was no need for any sauce or any other accompaniment. But still it fell short.

Although the accompaniment is exactly what it is, an accompaniment it could make or break the deal for me. Steak is not hard to duplicate at home. All you need is your preferred cut of meat, the right equipment (a good grill/barbeque, cast iron plates perhaps) and a bit of cooking skill and voila, you can cook the perfect steak! It just becomes more involved when you try to copy the “other” things that came with your restaurant steak.

I come from a culture that does not consider a meal complete without rice. Rice is present in Filipino gastronomy from breakfast to dinner and anything in between. It is therefore natural that my idea of a perfect steak meal includes rice.

I’ve had steak with the usual suspects (seasonal vegetables and potato – baked/chips/mashed). Other times I’ve had them with more interesting sides like garlic prawns. But I’m not aware of any restaurant that serves steak with rice (in Australia), steaming hot jasmine rice to be more specific.

I like my steak medium rare served on a sizzling plate. It might be horrifying for some but I use supermarket bought sauces. Que horror! purists might say but I just haven’t got the time to make jus for two when we feel like having steak.

Apart from the rice, my preferred side dishes are caramelised carrots and Brussels sprouts (a stuff of nightmares in some cartoon series).

Here’s how I do my steak:

T-bone (the meat closest to the bone is the tastiest)
A bit of sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Olive oil

1. Put the sizzling pan on the stove (preferably gas)
2. Some say do not salt your steak before cooking. I don’t subscribe to this. If you want to do it my way I suggest you salt the steak at least 10 minutes before cooking.
3. Add some black pepper (to your taste).
4. Cover the steak in olive oil.
5. After 10 minutes of marinating thrown your steak on the sizzling plate. Make sure it’s on high heat to develop a nice colour on your steak.
6. Depending on the thickness of the steak medium rare is about 2 minutes on each side.
7. Pour your preferred sauce onto the steak (while still on the sizzling plate) just before serving.

Brussels Sprouts w/ bacon
8-10 Brussels sprouts cut in half
A slice of bacon chopped (Pancetta if you want to be a bit more fancy)
Butter (not margarine)
Sea salt

1. Boil some salted water.
2. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook about ¾ of the way. Drain then set aside.
3. In a pan melt some butter then fry the bacon pieces.
4. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Caramelised Carrots
1-2 Carrots cut into chip size pieces or mini batons
Sea salt
Butter (not margarine)
Bay leaf
A bit of water

1. Combine all the ingredients together except for the butter. Make sure the water just covers the carrot pieces. Cook over medium heat.
2. Just before all the water has evaporated add the butter.
3. Cook until the pan starts to sizzle and the carrots are starting to caramelise.

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