I recently found myself in strange territory for a chef – I had Friday off. To celebrate this rare occasion I decided to treat myself to something more than the fish finger sandwiches and cheese-on-toast that my working hours usually only prohibit me to having. In keeping with my restaurant roots I decided to celebrate with what Friday nights typically mean for those who cook by having a steak. You may be expecting a little more than a simple steak dinner recipe from a chef who works in a fine dining restaurant, but when I’m not sweating away at work I don’t want to be cooking and eating the carpaccio of beef or the cured trout rillette that I serve to my customers.
I went for rump, it’s cheaper than sirloin and ribeye and arguably has less flavour due to its lack of fat content but everyone’s wallet is different and it’s a nice change to the expensive fillet steak we cook for customers whose wallets are heavier than mine. I always prefer pan-fried over grilled as it creates colour and caramelisation which means flavour. Adding aromatics to the pan during cooking such as thyme, rosemary or garlic along with butter also helps. As my head chef once told me “cooking meat without butter is like having sex without a penis.” He knows how to cook meat so I’ll take that advice but I don’t know how good he is in the bedroom. Most importantly, let the steak rest. Stick it one a chopping board and leave it alone – don’t touch it, don’t cut it, don’t even look at it, just let it rest.
For the mash I bake the potatoes rather than boiling them. The flesh is lighter and doesn’t absorb any moisture resulting in a creamier rather than wetter finish. I use désirée as they are waxier and can take more dairy which is always a good thing from a chefs perspective as we are less morally scrupulous when it comes to using butter than the home cook.
French peas, or petit pois à la Francais, is just lardons fried till crisp, frozen petit pois, a little stock or water and then enough butter than you think necessary, plus a little more (are you starting the see the theme here?) Shredded lettuce or spring onions can also be added for crunch but I’ve omitted that.
Finally for the jus I simply deglaze the pan I cooked the steak in with red wine. As my food hero, the late Keith Floyd once said, “if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it” which is fine advice at home but not so good for restaurant where we use fifteen litres of the stuff just for stock. Let this boil down and then add small amounts of cold butter piece-by-piece till it emulsifies. This takes a bit of practice and understanding of how butter and liquids cook together but you can eventually get an easy and flavourful jus.