Friday, January 07, 2011

Recipes: Steak and Chips

GrrrYou may be thinking "What sort of idiot needs a recipe for steak and chips?" Well I may be that idiot, it's amazing, even to me, how long it has taken me to perfect it.

The Potatoes

Other people, so called "professionals", recommend "waxy" potatoes. To be honest I've never quite understood what that refers to, the insides? Shiny potatoes might look waxy, ie, shiny, but they don't feel waxy. Anyway, more specifically, pink skinned potatoes are recommended, such as the desiree. However I think the most important thing about the potato is not so much the type but the quality and freshness of it, make sure it is firm, and you can mix it up a bit. Baking potatoes are good because you can make very long chips and be economical with the cutting. New potatoes are very tasty and if you use small whole ones they look like mini baked potatoes, which is fun. I also love sweet potato chips and often do half sweet and half other.

Cutting The Chips

You can cut the chips as thin as you can, but I wouldn't make them overly thick. Don't use whole large new potatoes. Rinse the cut chips in cold water.

The Oil

I'm afraid I haven't experimented with oil, whatever I've used has been satisfactory, 100% sunflower, Flora blended, etc. You don't need a lot of oil, the pan should only be about a third to a half full to allow for space for the chips and bubbling. I reuse my oil, sieving it back into the container. Remember to let it cool though, I once forgot and the plastic bottle collapsed in front of my eyes.

Cooking The Chips

Home Cooked ChipsWhen I first started cooking my own chips I thought the idea was to get the oil as hot as possible and cook the chips as quickly as possible, but I was wrong. My professional chef brother explained to me that the way to do it was to double cook them, blanched in cooler oil first and then quick and hot afterwards. Larry and I tried double and even triple cooking chips several times but decided that it just wasn't worth the effort. There is a happy medium though, start the chips off fairly cool, don't worry too much about drying them before you put them into the oil and don't bother with a lid, then after about twenty minutes turn the heat up. Note that sweet potatoes don't need quite as long, so if you're doing both in the same pan put them in a little later. You also have to be careful not to get sweet potato chips too hot as the sugar can caramelise and eventually burn, turning everything black. This has only happened once to us.

UPDATE: We now have a deep fat fryer, which is very useful. Cook the chips at about 130C for 10 minutes, take them out, turn the heat right up and then finish the chips off for a few minutes until golden. Cooking this way makes it very easy to do batches, cook each batch cool first and then finish them off when you are ready.

The Meat

Three Steak DinnerWell matured rib eye is my personal favourite. The butcher I frequent is the Ginger Pig at Greensmith's on Lower Marsh. My favoured way of serving steak to a few people is to buy various cuts, cut them into small chunks once cooked and serve all together on a chopping board in the middle of the table (see below).

Cooking The Steak

Three Steaks ServedDon't start the steaks too early, you don't want to over cook them or have to let them go cold while you're waiting for your chips to cook. Remember that if needs be you can cook steaks in no time at all. On the other hand I have recently discovered that you can leave steaks to stand in a cool oven and if anything they improve. In this vein turn your oven on to about 120C and put your plates in to warm. Pepper the steaks (I recommend Fiddes Payne Rainbow peppercorns). Heat your frying pan as hot as possible (within reason) add some butter and then the steaks. Fry for a minute or two until brown and preferably slightly crispy on each side. If necessary wrap in foil and put in the oven.

Pepper Sauce

In the same pan brown a shallot or two, add a lot of pepper corns (Fiddes Payne again) and then some red wine. Once the alcohol has boiled off add some cream and warm through. Take the steaks out of the oven and stir the steak juice into the sauce.

Other Sauces

ServedVariations on blue cheese, mushrooms (Greensmith's do nice jars of dried wild or woodland variates) and spinach go down well, and Antony Worrall Thompson does a good recipe of baby beetroot in balsamic vinegar and horseradish cream thing.

UPDATE: Famous last words.

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

yes, the insides. ´Floury´ones are good for mash.