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

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

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 

Aromatic Yoghurt and Chicken

I wasn’t sure what to have for dinner tonight so last night I cobbled a marinade together and left it to develop overnight whilst some chicken thighs were defrosting.

To make the marinade I took 2tsp coriander seeds, 2tsp fennel seeds, 2tsp cumin seeds and 2tsp black peppercorns. I toasted them in a dry pan before grinding them to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar. Then I took a green chilli snd a couple of garlic cloves and a good pinch of salt. These were puréed in the mortar and added to the ground spices. This mix was storred into sbout 250ml of plain yoghurt and left overnight in yhe fridge.

This morning I added the chicken thighs and left them in the fridge all day.

This evening I put 2 onions, sliced thickly, and about s dozen cherry tomatoes in a casserole. The yoghurty chicken was put on top, the lid put on and placed into an oven at 180C for about an hour.

Whilst it was in the oven I boiled some Basmati rice and fried a bunch of spring onions to use as a garnish. I also roasted a squash and a red and a yellow pepper to have as a side vegetable.

+++ UPDATE +++

Although the finished plate of food tasted delicious, it needed something else. Something green. Spinach perhaps.

Slow Roast Lamb

I thought I’d kick off this thing with today’s dinner.

I started off with a whole leg of lamb, about 2kg. The meat was scored with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern to the depth of about half an inch. Into this was rubbed a cheesey herb mix which comprised: 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2tsps garlic (about 6 medium cloves), about 15g finely grated Parmesan and the same of pine nuts. This was blitzed in a mini chopper until it was finely chopped and thoroughly mixed. The mix was then transferred to a bowl and a good glug of olive oil added along with black pepper, and mixed to form a thick paste.

Once this paste has been rubbed into the meat, the leg was placed in a roasting tin surrounded by 250ml of water and tightly wrapped in foil and left overnight to infuse.

lamb_rawAbout 5 hours before you wish to eat, preheat the oven to 160C (320F) then place lamb in oven for 3 hours min (until tender). After that, uncover meat and drain, keeping the juices. Return the lamb to the oven for 10-15 mins to brown and crisp. Take out of the oven and allow to rest for at least 15 mins. In the meantime, skim off any fat from the juices, bring to boil and thicken with cornflour (about 1tsp dissolved in cold water). Carve lamb (or pull apart, which is more likely) and serve with whatever veg/spuds you fancy. Mash with caremelised onions is good.