Ever since I’ve been cooking in anger, the dish ordered most often is steak & chips. I’m lucky in that I can pick up fabulous fresh Charolais steaks right from the farm gate from ‘La Fermette’, our local farm shop. It’s usually gorgeously delicious, perfectly marbled meat, high quality enough to use for steak tartare.
My menu includes a small choice of sauces: Béarnaise, peppercorn, Roquefort or wholegrain mustard (and it’s the blue cheese that wins out most often), so I thought it was time to branch out a little. So for my first new one, I’ve gone South American with a spot of chimichurri. Supposedly first uttered by British prisoners of war in the 18th century (‘chi mi curry’ or ‘give me curry’), who demanded more interesting meals from their Spanish captors, this is one of the simplest sauces to chuck together.
The first important decision is “to chilli or not to chilli”. I’m going with ‘no’, as it’s designed to be light & refreshing to match tonight’s sunny, ‘summer is nearly here’ evening. So it’s just parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil and white wine vinegar. The first three are plucked fresh from the garden, and finely chopped. I’m going with a bit of shallot, too, to give it a little more body, since it doesn’t have any base to carry it. This is also its upside, though, because in these quantities (5 cloves of garlic, half a cup of parsley, and a quarter of oregano) those raw ingredients really zip with flavour. Blitz the lot, and chill in the fridge.
This baby is my favourite pan – it’s heavy cast-iron that I (literally) tripped over in the dusty corner of a vide grenier (attic sale) for €4, and fabulous for steak frying because it’s equally at home on the hob or in the oven (it is seen here having a well-deserved smoke after being well used). Always remember to stick your oven on before you start preparing your steak. Nice and hot, 220 degrees at least. Oil the steak, not the pan (and by ‘oil’, I mean melted butter), season (with both salt and pepper), and ensure the pan is absolutely smoking hot before chucking those steaks in. Let Maillard do its work on both sides, and then stick them in the oven – about six extra minutes for medium-rare, or three if you like it moo’ing (like I do).
I normally serve with thin chips (allumettes, or match sticks) in the traditional French style, but just fancied some big fluffy chunky ones today.