Sunday 21 December 2014

Cheater’s Steak and Chips with Garlic Broccoli

Ever have one of those moments in the supermarket where you just decide… Hey, I deserve a steak! I’ll be damned if I know what the heck I think I did to deserve it, but it was on special so you can be sure I bought it.

Steak and chips holds a special place close to my heart. Namely my stomach. It’s the kind of thing that just naturally feels like you’re celebrating something. Like the universe has just said “Here you go champ. Have a slab of meat for your troubles”.

And for anyone who grew up with a parent trying their best to instil good eating habits, chips were always a treat.

Why I love broccoli so much… that might take a bit more imagination. But basically it all comes down to a little movie called The Land Before Time. If you’ve seen it, you might already know where I’m going with this. There’s a scene where a small grove of trees, full of leaves, is discovered by our hungry, herbivorous heroes. In moments, they see it descended upon by Long-Necks, who strip it bare before their eyes.

So, I, uhh… Liked to pretend that I was a gigantic Jurassic beast, and the broccoli was a hapless tree. And, I, uhh… Maybe still do from time to time.

Anyway! Put all those things together, (and add garlic, because of course you add garlic) and you get one of my favourite comfort meals. The only problem is, good chips take a bit of effort. As awesome as these fries are, chipping, soaking, drying, blanching, then deep-frying are not always what you’re in the mood for at the end of a long day. Even if you just go for those vaguely disappointing oven chips, they still always seem to take about half an hour to cook.

So I found a better way to do it, for when you just can’t wait to sink your teeth into a plateful of juicy steak and thick chips. And even better, the whole thing is done in just one pan! Minimal effort, minimal clean-up, and tasty as hell. Heck yes.

I can’t wait to get that meat in my mouth!

…I’m gonna give you a free pass on that one, just this once.

1) Scrub a couple of potatoes, prick them all over and bake them in the microwave.

2) Smash up lots of garlic, then crisp in olive oil, from cold. Scoop garlic and most of the oil into a cup.

3) Get the pan smoking hot, salt steak and toss it into the pan. Flip once, when underside is charred.

4) Remove steak when cooked to your liking. Leave it someplace warm to rest.

5) Cut cooked potatoes into wedges. Return the rest of the garlic oil to the pan and use it to fry them.

6) When crisped on both sides, remove from the pan, sprinkle with salt and keep them warm with the steak.

7) Cut purple sprouting broccoli in half lengthwise, fry until tender, then toss with the crispy garlic.

8) Serve with the steak and wedges, and a generous dollop of mayonnaise on the side.

Bam! Stick a fork in it, it’s done!

Wait, where’s the sauce? I don’t want no dry-ass steak! And those aren’t real chips, they’re fried potatoes!

Hey, I love a good pepper sauce as much as the next carnivore. But there’s a million recipes for that kinda thing online already, you don’t need me to tell you how to make it. This here’s something a little different. And honestly, with the juices from the steak, the mayonnaise, and the natural freshness of the broccoli, the meal’s not dry at all. So don’t worry your pretty little head.

Although you’re right about the chips. But that’s what makes this the cheater’s version. Trust me though, once those potatoes are fluffy from being baked through, then fried until crispy in that garlic oil, you ain’t gonna care about whether they’re technically chips or not!

Ingredients (serves 1 hungry person)

  • 1 steak
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g purple sprouting broccoli (or tenderstem)
  • salt and pepper
  • a big dollop of mayonnaise

A pestle and mortar would come in handy, but it’s not necessary.

I’m not even going to attempt to go into “how many grams of steak” or “what type of steak” you should use. Buy whatever cut is in your budget, and get as much as you’ll eat. This ain’t, I honestly couln't care less. But if you do buy a cheaper, tougher cut, it’s a good idea to pound your meat a bit first. By which I mean tenderise your steak, you deviants! Now if you can get your mind out of the gutter for a moment, shall we begin?

    Start by getting the potatoes ready. Skins-on is the way to go, so don’t peel ‘em. Just scrub them well under some running water to clean them. Then make sure to grab a knife or a fork and prick them all over. Pop ‘em in the microwave and cook until the inside of the potato gives way easily when you squeeze it with your fingers. How long this takes depends entirely on your microwave. The pricking part is actually pretty important. I totally forgot to do this and 5 minutes later there was a dull ka-poom! sound and my potato was what could charitably be described as “decorating” the inside of my microwave.

    While the microwave is working it’s mysterious magic, peel your garlic cloves and smash them to bits! You’re not crushing them into a paste, like with a garlic crusher, and you’re not chopping them into slices with a knife. You’re bashing the daylights out of them, plain and simple. This is where the pestle and mortar comes in handy. Otherwise, use a rolling pin or something. Aside from just being fun, this’ll give the garlic plenty of surface area. Which means it’ll crisp up better when you fry it. If you went a step further and made it into a paste, it would clump together when fried.

    Scrape the smashed garlic into a large frying pan and pour in the olive oil. Heat up the pan to medium-low, and stir the garlic as it fries, slowing changing colour. When you see it turn a light brown, take it off the heat and pour it all into a cup. You’ve now got beautiful, slightly sweet, crispy garlic, along with garlic flavoured oil. Be careful not to let it burn, burnt garlic tastes nasty.

    Return about a tablespoon of the oil to the pan and turn up the heat to medium high. Get out your steak and pat it dry with kitchen paper (paper towels, for those across the pond). It really doesn’t matter if the steak is straight from the fridge or let rest to room-temp, but it is important that the outside is dry. Otherwise a lot of heat is wasted evaporating moisture instead of cooking the meat. Rub the steak with salt on both sides and lay it on the pan when you see the oil starting to smoke. Pepper can also be added at this point, but it tends to burn. I actually kinda like that burnt flavour (no accounting for taste, eh?), but not many people do, so it’s best to add the pepper after cooking.

    How long you want to cook your steak for depends on how thick the steak is, the type of cut, and how well done you like it (P.S., you don’t want it more than medium. You might think you do, but you really don’t. Any more than medium and you’re just ruining a perfectly good piece of meat. Those people go to a special hell). But we’re talking 5-10 minutes, total cooking time. To make things simple for yourself, only flip the steak once. Turning the steak regularly results in more even cooking, but the difference isn’t big enough to worry about. Besides, we’re gonna put your time to better use than staring at a steak, flipping it every 20 seconds.

    Make sure your potatoes are finished cooking. If they’re good, slice them into wedges and leave them to steam off. Turn your oven on as low as it’ll go and stick a plate in there to warm up.

    When your steak has got a nice crust on both sides, and is done in the middle to your preference (remembering the special hell), season it with pepper and put it on that plate in the oven to rest. Don’t be afraid to cut into it to see how it looks. Bear in mind though that the centre, particularly with thick steaks, will continue to cook further as heat transfers into it, so it’s best to take the steak off the pan slightly before you think it’s done. Also with thick steaks, you might want to sear the edge by simply picking it up with a tongs and pressing the side against the hot pan for a few seconds.

    With the steak out of the pan, turn the heat back down to medium-low and pour in the rest of the garlic oil. Now you’ve got a mixture of awesome steak fat and garlic oil heating up, absolutely perfect for frying your potatoes in. Add the wedges, spacing them out as best you can. Leave them to fry for about 3 minutes, then flip them so that they crisp up on both sides. Sprinkle over some of your golden garlic shards, because more garlic is always the answer.

    While the second side is frying, slice the broccoli in half, right down the middle. You want them thinner like this so they cook faster. If you’ve got particularly thick broccoli stems, cut them into quarters. If you’ve got really thick broccoli stems, then you’ve most like bought regular broccoli and you’re feeling pretty silly right about now.

    Remove the wedges once the second side is cooked, sprinkle on some salt and leave them with the steak to keep warm. Immediately throw the broccoli into the hot pan. Move them around to ensure even cooking for 2-3 minutes, then throw in the rest of the crispy garlic bits and any oil that remained with them. Toss to completely coat the broccoli, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or so.

    Pull the steak and chips out of the oven, add the garlic broccoli to the plate, and serve with a big spoonful of mayonnaise on the side.

Tuck in. You deserve it, right? You big, hungry dinosaur, you.

(To make the dish look “cleaner” in the photos, I had rested my steak on a separate plate, before transferring to the one you see up top. As a result, much of that gorgeous steak juice was left behind. You would never need to do this, so you should end up with a lot more on your plate, perfect for soaking up with the chips.

Also, for the record, I slightly over-cooked this steak. Personally, I’m a fan of medium-rare, and i left this on the pan long enough for it to reach medium. The only reliable way to get a steak to how you like it is to use a meat thermometer. I don’t have one, so it’s mostly guesswork. Never be afraid to cut into the meat and take a look while you’re cooking.)

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