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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Porky Al Forno

A slight variation on the caulifornication recipe making the al forno dish more of a side-dish.

  • 1x leek
  • 1x carrot
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1x clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 2x new potatoes
  • breadcrumb and parmesan mix

This first stage can be done in advance. The carrot and potato were left over but basically cook both until just on the soft side of al dente. Slice and boil the leek for three minutes then strain and cool with cold water. Once cold, pat dry. Slice the potato. Melt a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a frying pan. Chop the garlic and fry gently until soft. Do not allow to brown. Add the leeks, potato and carrot and fry for about five minutes. Add the cream and the mustard and stir well. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, allow to cool if preparing in advance, and cover tightly with foil.

The veg was put in the fridge until needed the next day. I also prepared the pork chop as follows:

  • 1x pork chop (approx. 200g/ 1in thick, bone in)
  • 1x clove garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4tbsp light soy sauce
  • black pepper

Put all the ingredients into a re-sealable freezer bag. Score the pork chop in a diamond pattern and place in the bag with the marinade. Massage gently and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

When it’s tea time, preheat the oven to 200C and put the veg into the oven for 25 mins.

After 25 mins, heat up some butter and oil in a pan and seal the pork chop on all sides. Transfer to an oven tray and place in the oven for 10 mins. Take the veg out and uncover. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese and put back into the oven for about 5 mins until the top is browned and the cheese has melted.

Check the chop is cooked through and serve

Caulifornication

Please excuse the pun. I’m tired and I can’t think of anything else right now.

I was looking for an accompaniment to some plain old roast chicken and had a cauliflower and a leek in the cupboard so I adapted a potato and leek al forno recipe. The resulting dish, however would probably serve as a main dish on it’s own (vegetarian if you omit the lardons)

  • Half a cauliflower, broken up into florets
  • 1x leek
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 rashers of thick cut smoky bacon (optional if vegetarian)
  • 500ml double cream
  • 2 slices stale bread
  • grated parmesan

I blanched the cauliflower florets in boiling water and turmeric for about 5 mins then cooled them rapidly under the cold tap. When cooled, slice thickly.  The leek was sliced, blanched for 3 mins and drained.

Meanwhile the anchovy fillets and the garlic were chopped and heated in the pan until the garlic had softened. Then add the bacon chopped into small pieces if using. Cook until the lardons are starting to get a bit crispy then add the leeks and sliced cauliflower florets. Cook covered for a further 5 mins on a medium heat. Add the creams, stir, and cover tightly with foil. Place in a hot oven (200C) for 30 mins.

After half an hour, remove from the oven, uncover and sprinkle the parmesan and the bread (crumbed in the food processor) over the top. Return to the oven for 10 mins or until the top is browned.

I served it up with roast chicken and pickled carrots. The carrots were dead easy and took about 5 mins to prepare: Add 1 cup of white or apple cider vinegar, one cup of water, 1 tsp salt and 3 tsps. sugar to a pan. Bring to boil so salt and sugar are dissolved. Using a peeler, cut a couple of carrots into ribbons and place in a bowl with dill and garlic. Pour the vinegar over the carrots and allow to cool. When cold, discard the liquor, dill and garlic and serve.

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.

Chicken Espagnolish

Home alone this weekend so after chores and shopping I set about getting dinner ready. 

Three skin-on, bone in chicken thighs were dusted with Ras El Hanout and roasted at 190C for 25 mins and allowed to drain and cool. 

I quartered a out 10s of chorizo and sliced it up along with two onions, a clove of garlic and four plum tomatoes. 

When the chicken had cooled I boned and chopped it up. Then set about the rest of the chores. 

When it was time to cook I heated a frying pan and heated the chorizo to release the oil. The chorizo was removed and the onions and garlic softened in the oil for about 20mins. I then added the tomatoes and the chorizo to the pan and cooked them gently until the tomatoes disintegrated. Finally the chicken was stirred in and heated through (about 10mins).

Served with plain brown rice and a good rioja!


Needed chopped parsley

Curried Veggies with Paneer

We’re off on holiday to France on Saturday so this week is a week of using up the odds and sods in the fridge.

I had a few pints of milk in the fridge so last night I made fresh paneer.

Here you go:

  • 4 red onions (sliced)
  • 4 mushrooms (rough chopped)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1tsp chopped garlic
  • 1tsp chopped ginger

All of the above are cooked together for about 10 mins.

  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2tsp turmeric
  • 1/2tsp ground coriander
  • 250g cubed paneer

Add the spices and cook for a minute.


Then add the cheese.

  • Spinach
  • 1/4tsp garam masala
  • 1/4tsp ground fenugreek
  • 150ml double cream

Add the above and pop a lid on until the spinach has wilted. The spinach puts a fair bit of liquid into the sauce so you may want to cook it separately and add it in at the end.


Served with brown rice steamed in lime juice. Also great in a pitta/flatbread with fresh coriander and yoghurt.

Chickeny Tomatoey Thingummy

Not really sure what dish this is but it’s damn tasty. At the weekend the freezer went on the fritz so I was left with a load of chicken thighs that needed cooking. Grabbing what was to hand I had the following:

  • 6 boned and skinned chicken thighs 
  • An onion
  • A red pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp dried tarragon
  • Oil

The onion and garlic were chopped and fried until soft. I added the diced pepper and the chicken and put a lid on the pan. After about 20mins I added the chopped tomatoes and the tarragon, replaced the lid and cooked the ‘stew’ for about 10 mins then took the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid. 

Before serving I added a tablespoon of butter to thicken the sauce and added a few twists of salt and pepper to taste. The tomatoey chicken was served with roast potatoes 

Flemish Fromage

Chicory, or endive, why did I buy it? Oh yeah, it was reduced because it was close to it’s ‘Best Before’ date. That was 2 weeks ago. I found 4 stems in the salad drawer in the bottom of the fridge. After a few discarded outer leaves and 10 mins in iced water, they were fine.

Serves 2, generously
  • 4 chicory (endive) heads
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 150ml fromage frais
  • 150g grated cheese

I quartered the chicory lengthways and sat them in two dishes on sliced red onions, garlic and fresh thyme. I poured over half a pint of chicken stock and put a tight fitting foil lid on. They were braised for about 40 mins at 190C. After draining and patting dry they were put back into the dishes with the onions and garlic, covered with ham and blanketed in a cheese sauce. The sauce was 150g of cream cheese, 150ml of fromage frais and a splash of milk beaten to a smooth consistency. 150g of grated cheddar and gouda was sprinkled on top and they were both grilled for about 15mins until golden and bubbling. Served up with crusty bread. Next time I’ll try with Little Gem lettuce