Outflanked

Today I cooked one of my favourite pieces of steak: flank. Sometimes known as bavette, eaten more widely on the continent than here at home in the UK. Often referred to as ‘butcher’s cut’ as in the past it was often reserved by the butcher for him/herself, flank steak is growing in popularity as it’s a cheaper cut of meat than most and, in my opinion, far superior in flavour (if it’s been treated well, aged and prepared properly).

There isn’t a local butcher where I live but there is a great butcher close to where I work so as I’m home alone for the next week, I thought I’d treat myself. Flam doesn’t really need marinating, but it does need cooking the right way to ensure it’s both enjoyable to eat and easy to digest. I made a marinade and did a lot of the prep on Friday, cooking the steak on Sunday,

For the marinade:

  • 2 whole Ancho chilies
  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3tbsp Henderson’s relish (Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2cm fresh ginger (finely chopped)
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • Water to make up to 200ml of marinade

Combine all of the above in a jug and allow the chilis to soften. Ancho are the dried Poblano chilis and have a mild but deep smoky flavour. After 24hrs, pour the marinade into a reliable bag and add the steak. Squish about a bit and place in the fridge for 24hrs or so.

The cooking bit

Remove the marinating meat from the fridge about ten minutes prior to cooking to allow it to come up to room temperature. Pour the liquid into a small saucepan to make a sauce.  remove all the bits of pepper, garlic and ginger adhering to the steak and pop them into the saucepan with the liquid. Pat the steak dry and put to one side.

Heat up a griddle pan or a heavy frying pan until it is smoking. DO NOT oil either the meat or the pan. The heat should be sufficient to seal and cook the meat without the need for oil (which only creates a lot of unwanted smoke). Place the steak in the pan and leave it alone. Don’t move it around, press it down or anything. After three minutes, turn the steak over. Continue cooking the steak for a further three minutes. This should result in a rare to med/rare steak. Remove the steak from the pan and slice, with the grain, into strips. Place sliced steak in a warm place for 20 mins or so whilst you prepare your accompaniments.

 

The sauce

I don’t feel it’s necessary to make a sauce to go with the steak but it seems such a waste to just throw the marinade away. Bring the liquid to the boil and strain out the bits, returning the liquid to the pan. Add a dozen or so whole black peppercorns. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce to about 50ml. Just before you serve up, add about 100ml of double/heavy cream. Stir well and bring to a boil but do not boil! Pour into a jug and serve alongside.

I fried a few mushrooms (shiitake, enokitake and oyster) in butter and garlic, sautéed some potatoes and softened a few cherry tomatoes and green beans in butter and oregano to eat alongside the steak.

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Pork’n’Beans

 

Usually pork’n’beans is a throw-together, last minute sort of a meal. Due to some sort of a mix up with the shopping we had a surfeit of baby plum tomatoes so I looked in the cupboard to see what was lurking in there that could be used with the tomatoes as I was getting a bit bored of salad. And salsa.

In the back of the cupboard was a tin of cannellini beans so, along with a few other bits and pieces, I had a go at baked beans.

For the beans

  • 1x 250g punnet of baby plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3x cloves garlic
  • bunch of spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1x 400g cannellini beans

Chop the onion and quarter all the tomatoes. Finely chop the garlic and soften the onion and garlic in a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a saucepan. Add the paprika after 5 mins and continue to cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes (skin, pips and all) and the tomato puree. Bring to the boil, cover and cook on a low heat for about an hour. Rinse the beans well and add them to the sauce and set aside.

Pork’n’beans

The beans were allowed to cool overnight. Two rashers of belly pork were put in an earthenware dish, seasoned and covered. They were slow cooked at 160C for three hours or until most of the fat has rendered down and the skin has crisped up (you may wish to uncover the chops for the last half hour and cook at 200C). The pork was drained and patted dry. In another dish, the cold beans were spread over the bottom and the pork placed on top. This was then put into the oven at 200C for as long as it takes to make a rich buttery mashed potato. About 25 mins.

I didn’t bother (I was too hungry to wait any longer) but you could serve with cabbage, or broccoli. I just served the pork’n’beans with mash. There were no leftovers.