WITH a chill in the air, it’s certainly beginning to feel like the autumn nights are setting in.
As much as I begin to miss the light, bright summer evenings, there’s something exciting about the thought of cosy nights in, enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal and a lovely full-bodied bottle of red wine.
A really good steak can make a perfect Saturday supper. Our local butchers George Bower, neighbours to The Scran & Scallie, supply us with some of the finest meats. The meat we buy is hung, which is a process that many butchers and top chefs use as a way to age beef and really improve and concentrate the wonderful flavour. You’ll find the meat is more tender and flavourful if it’s been hung.
Many cuts of meat can benefit from hanging and ageing, and T-bone steak is one which can make a great Saturday supper. The T-bone steak is taken from the whole sirloin and you’ll get so much flavour from this cut because on one side you’ll find a lovely tender fillet, while on the other you’ll enjoy a piece of flavoursome sirloin steak. You’ll really be able to taste the tender, natural, juicy flavour of the meat if it’s been hung and looked after properly.
The first step is to make sure you take the meat out of the fridge about half an hour before you’re ready to start cooking so it can come to room temperature.
If you buy good-quality meat that’s been hung for just the right amount of time, you really won’t have to do much to it to create a superb meal. If you’re cooking a T-bone steak, you can either quickly pan-fry it, grill it or roast it. My favourite way to cook it, is to stick it on the barbecue – even in winter. It gives it a wonderful, natural, smoky flavour that just adds that extra depth.
I like to make some homemade flavoured butter to go with my steak supper, such as Pastis butter or Café de Paris butter – two French classics that never lose their appeal. They’re actually much simpler to make and freeze than you might think. We use a lot of fresh homemade butters in the restaurant, and often when we make them up I also take some home with me to keep in the freezer, as they can make great additions to simple home-cooked meals – and not just meat dishes.
Everyone has their favourite way of serving T-bone steak, but whether you’re serving with home-cut chips, wedges or a big bowl of steaming roast vegetables, find the best meat you can and add flavour with a classic French butter. The perfect ingredients for a cosy Saturday night in.
For one person
Ask butcher to cut a T-bone steak about 500g
Heat up a barbecue or griddle-pan until it is hot. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little oil. Place the steak on the grill and don’t move it until well “bar-marked” after about one minute.
Give the steak a “quarter-turn” and again leave for about a minute until “bar-marked” again. Turn the steak over and repeat the bar-marking process on the other side. The extent to which the meat will be cooked at this point depends upon the internal (core) temperature. This will vary depending on the thickness of the steak and the temperature it was held at before cooking. It is best now to probe the meat with a cooking thermometer. If the core temperature is 52C, the steak will be approximately medium-rare. Vary the internal temperature according to your taste.
You can cook the steak more by placing it in a hot oven or pan and basting it with the meat juices and butter. Once satisfied with the cooking degree, rest the meat for five to ten minutes to allow it to relax. Once rested, quickly warm the meat up again for a couple of minutes in the oven and serve with French butter, Dijon mustard and herbs.
knob of butter
5 slices Parma ham – finely diced
6 shallots – finely diced
1 fennel – finely diced
200g button mushrooms – finely diced
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 tbsp tarragon – finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley – finely chopped
1 sprig of dill – finely chopped
150ml Pastis (an anise-flavoured liqueur and aperitif from France)
Soften the butter then place into a blender and whisk for 2-3 mins until well whisked, then set aside. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan and add another knob of butter. Add the diced Parma ham and sweat gently for 2-3 mins to release the fat. Sweat the shallots, fennel and butter mushrooms gently for 2-3 mins, then add the garlic. Add the Pastis and reduce until it is dry.
Add the chopped herbs – tarragon, parsley and dill – then set aside to cool. Fold the mixture through the butter until they are all mixed through. Roll a layer of clingfilm on the table. Roll the butter into inch-wide cylinder shapes, then wrap the clingfilm around the cylinder tightly several times. Set aside and then place in the freezer for storing.
Beurre Café de Paris
knob of butter
1 tbsp shallots – chopped finely
1 tsp garlic – chopped finely
1 tbsp parsley – chopped finely
1 tsp thyme leaves – chopped finely
1 tsp tarragon – chopped finely
1 tsp rosemary – chopped finely
splash of brandy
splash of Madeira
splash of Worcester sauce
15g Dijon mustard
Soften the butter, taking care not to soften it too much. Place the butter into a mixer with a whisk blade, then whisk for three to four minutes. The butter will begin to turn white. When it does, you can set it aside. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan. Add another knob of butter and sweat the shallots gently, then add the garlic and sweat for another minute. Then add the herbs – parsley, thyme, tarragon and rosemary, reserving a little to garnish – and sweat gently to release the flavour. Add a pinch of salt, then set aside to cool.
Once cool, add to the 500g of butter and then add a splash of brandy, Madeira and Worcester sauce. Add 15g Dijon mustard and 30g ketchup and mix together until all the ingredients are combined with the butter. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Roll a layer of clingfilm on the table. Roll the butter into inch-wide cylinder shapes, then wrap the clingfilm around the cylinder tightly several times. Set aside and then place in the freezer for storing.