I looooooove me a good steak. Sometimes a girl just needs a big ole hunk of red meat, you know? I’m very picky about my steaks and I always love them with pepper sauce.
So a couple of weeks ago, when my usual partner in culinary crime Zizwe (someone has to eat all the stuff I cook) was off in Durban for work, I took some steaks I’d been marinating for a few days out of the fridge and cooked ’em up.
OK, let’s begin. I started with some aged sirloin steaks which I marinated for at least two days. Lord knows I can barely remember what I put in my salad this afternoon, but I probably tossed in some olive oil, sesame oil, crushed garlic and ginger and loads of ground green peppercorns. I rarely add salt to my steaks before cooking because I once watched on some cooking show that it dries steaks out, and if I cast my mind back to primary school science and the definition of “osmosis”, that makes sense to me. You can’t argue with science.
So I served the steaks with the wonder that is fried gnocchi. I was first introduced to this glorious invention by the marvelous Nigella Lawson; I remember when Zizwe and I first saw her making them. It was Christmastime 2011, we were watching a host of Christmas cooking specials, and we were mesmerised.
I got a pack of pre-made gnocchi from my usual supplier, and stuck it in a wok full of mixed bacon-and-duck fat.
Yes! You can fry gnocchi! They aren’t just made to be boiled! I fried them up until they were a lovely happy golden brown…
Isn’t that a happy sight? 🙂
I tossed them in my pink Himalayan salt:
…and some fresh basil pesto, again from my usual supplier.
No, I don’t have a photo of that. 😀
Next, the steaks. I took them out of the fridge and allowed them to come up to room temperature before slapping them into a pan and frying them up:
They look overdone, don’t they? Don’t they? Well, they’re not! On yet another TV cooking show I learnt how to tell when steaks are done rare, medium, and well without slicing them open.
Take your forefinger and squish it against your forehead, where your third eye would be. You feel that squishiness? If you squish your steak and it feels like your forehead, your steak is rare. Do the same with your chinny chin chin. That is how a medium steak feels. And your nose? That, my friends, is the squishiness of a well done steak.
Take your perfectly-cooked steak out of the pan and allow to rest on a plate:
Now take the same pan you made the steaks in (the little stuck bits at the bottom of the pan are the best flavoring you can get), throw in some olive oil, and fry up some finely chopped shallots:
You don’t want to brown them; just fry them up until they go translucent. Next, throw in some ground and whole green peppercorns (go on, be generous, more, more!) and a generous knob of butter:
I think this is the point where I need to explain that cooking on this particular Shrove Tuesday was completely unplanned. I had naturally wanted to make pancakes, but just couldn’t be inspired to mix up pancakes for just me. So I barely ate lunch, didn’t start on dinner for a good couple of hours after I got home from work, and had consumed two glasses of wine by the time I got to this point.
So when I looked at the bottle of sherry ready to splash some into the sauce, and I was tipsy enough to be bold but not quite tipsy enough to burn the house down, a flambé seemed like a good idea. I threw in a generous amount of sherry, grabbed my candle lighter, and…
yaaaaaaaaaay! Flambé success! And my house is still standing!
Next I threw in a generous dollop of creme fraiche and allowed the whole lot to cook down.
While the sauce was reducing I sliced up my rested steak:
(told you they were perfectly done)
Before plating up the whole delicious lot:
This is really easy, tastes really good, and I promise anyone can make it. But if you’re the accident-prone sort, I’d recommend skipping the bit where you light the pan on fire.
So try it, enjoy, and let me know how it works out 🙂