The French do not believe in medium-rare, medium or (heaven forbid), well done. When you eat at an authentic French restaurant, you really only have two options: blue-rare or rare. If you ask for anything more cooked than that, upon careful observation, you will notice your waiter’s eyebrow rise just a little — a gesture of disapproval commonly used by French waiters and British butlers. The chef will consider you to be a lost cause and bring out that less-than-stellar piece of beef that had been set aside for an uncouth palate such as yours. After all, the way the chef sees it, why waste a prime piece of meat on someone that doesn’t know how to enjoy it? Besides, the well-done steak tastes almost like a sub-prime piece of meat anyway, so why not help it along a little? Of course, being a steak-snob was not my intention at all. I was just aiming for some French bistro-style steak and K seemed up to the challenge of a very rare steak. My parents would seriously disapprove — after all, Hindus are not supposed to eat beef, let alone eat it mostly uncooked! And their disapproval would have been less subtle than the French waiter’s or the British butler’s.
I know I’ve said this before, but I feel that I must say it again: bring the steak to room temperature before cooking for about an hour (in the summer) or longer depending on the thickness of the steak. And after the steak has cooked, let it rest so that the muscles in the steak have time to relax. Not resting the steak will make it taste tough no matter how premium the cut was, or how fabulous your recipe is. And if you want a good sear, then remember to pat dry the steak on both sides with paper towels before putting it in the hot oil.
French bistro-style steak with a sherry sauce
Yield: 1 steak
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: 20-25 minutes
Strip Steak seared on the outside and very pink on the inside with a sweet sherry pan sauce -- definitely a recipe for entertaining guests with!
For the steak:
1 strip steak, over 1" thick
coarsely ground sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for frying
For the sauce:
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp cup sweet sherry
2 Tbsp port wine
1/2 cup veal or chicken stock
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
salt and pepper to taste
Season the steak with salt and pepper. Rub all over with some olive oil and let sit for 5 minutes.
Note: Now because I want a good crusty sear on the outside of the steak and the inside to still be very pink, I will cook it on very high heat in a pan that already has smoking hot oil.
Heat a stainless steel pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Quickly pat the steak dry on both sides using paper towels and place in the pan. You should hear a loud sizzle as the steak cooks.
After 3 minutes check the underside of the steak for searing. If the bottom has already seared well, then flip and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes. Also sear the sides so that the crust forms all over. Once done, set the steak aside and tent with aluminium foil.
Turn the heat down to medium. Wait a minute for the pan to cool down. If there isn't enough oil, add a teaspoon or two more. Now add the garlic and stir until the garlic releases its aromas.
Pour in the sherry and the port and using a metal spatula, scrape off the caramelised bits from the steak that are stuck to the bottom. Reduce the alcohols until they are thick and syrupy.
Add the stock, the sprig of thyme and any drippings from the steak. Reduce the sauce until the sacue is thick enough to coat the bottom of a spoon. Check and adjust seasonings.
Add the cold butter and swirl it into the sauce.
Slice the steak into quarter-inch thick squares, drizzle some sauce over and serve with some starch and greens.