Monday, 23 September 2013

Sirloin Steak & Asparagus

I don't often treat myself, but when i do, there's nothing i like more than a nice, well cooked steak. Of course, for most people this means going to a restaurant as it's very easy to screw up cooking a steak at home. Fortunately, it's just as easy to cook it right, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

You will need the following ingredients:

2 x Sirloin Steaks, 8oz (225g) each
Bunch of Fresh Asparagus
Garlic Powder

Utensils Needed:

Chefs Knife
Chopping Board
Griddle Pan

In total, this meal costs roughly £3 per person, proving that you don't have to spend a lot, to get a lot.

One of the most important things about cooking any kind of steak, is *never* cook it straight from the fridge. The meat needs to be at room temperature before you start working with it and cooking it. I took really cheap, value steaks, to illustrate just how well even a cheap steak can be turned into a work of art, given the right prep.

Take your griddle pan, and put it on a high heat straight away. This is very important. You want to sear the meat and seal the moisture and fat inside, rather than let it escape into the pan. Put the saucepan on with some water in for the asparagus at the same time, you want it to a rolling boil by the time you've finished the prep. 

Score the fat on the back of each steak. This stops the steak from 'curling up' when you place it face down in the pan. Season them with the garlic powder and parsley at this point. You do *not* need to add any extra fat.

Never add oil to the pan, or the steaks themselves - you end up with a far greasier steak that way, and you only need a small amount to stop the meat from drying out or sticking to the pan.

Set to one side while you deal with the asparagus.

This is the easy bit - all you need to do with the asparagus, is trim about an inch off the bottom of the stalks, removing the thicker, more fibrous parts. The amount pictured, is usually enough for one person.

By now, the griddle pan should be searingly hot (so be very careful!), and the saucepan will be on a nice, rolling boil. Add the asparagus to the pan, and take each steak and with your hands, press the FAT edge into the griddle for roughly 30 seconds. This renders the fat from the steak, crisps up the edge and adds all you need to stop the steak from sticking to even a cast iron griddle.

Once this is done, place each steak seasoned side down, on the griddle pan.

Pay attention to the griddle pan - each steak should take no more than 3 minutes on each side. Only ever turn the steak ONCE. There's no need to poke it, threaten it, interrogate it, or ask it about the fundamentals of life - just 3 minutes per side will do! Flip the steak over, and again, season with salt, garlic powder and parsley just as before.

The asparagus will be ready at the same time the steak will be, so to avoid overcooking it and ending up with a green, amorphous mush, take it off the heat, drain and plate up.

Take the steak off the heat and place on a board to rest. Unfortunately, i no longer have a chopping board with a carving groove around the edges for the juices to collect, so i cheated, by using a wire cake cooling rack, and a plastic chopping board underneath.You should rest the steak for roughly a minute before putting it on a plate, you'd be surprised at the amount of juices that end up coming out of the steak - and you don't want a soggy steak on your plate now, do you? :)

See that below? That is perfectly pink in the middle. If you press it with your finger, it's not too soft and not too hard, with a decent amount of spring left in it. Serve with some wholegrain mustard, or bearnaise sauce. Give yourself a pat on the back, because you just made a perfect steak dinner in less than 15 minutes.

Some of you probably noticed i made no mention of anything potato related - it's purely personal preference. I find a baked potato tends to be too heavy, and you come away from the meal feeling bloated. Mashed potato would be fine, but increases the prep time considerably - but again, if you want to add either, go right ahead, just work out your timings beforehand so you don't end up with either cold steak & asparagus or cold potato!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Homemade Lamb Burgers

Apologies for the lack of content for over a year - in December 2012 i moved back to the UK from France, and as a result, my kitchen facilities have been lacking until fairly recently. However, to celebrate the resumption of posting, i thought i'd do something that almost everyone loves - BURGERS!

I've made burgers before, from regular old beef mince, but i fancied something different. Lamb seems to be underused these days, probably because it seems to be priced as a 'premium' meat, which is unfortunate, as Lamb tastes amazing.

You will need the following ingredients:

2 x 600g (~21oz) of Lamb Mince (again, you can use beef, pork or turkey mince if you prefer)
2 x Large Shallots - approximately 100g (3.5oz) worth.
3 x Garlic Cloves
1 x Slice White Bread
1 x Egg
Burger Buns
Sliced Cheese
Sliced Beetroot
Bacon (optional)

Utensils Needed:

Chopping Board
Chefs Knife
Large Mixing Bowl
Food Processor or Blender
Baking Sheet
Griddle Pan or Frying Pan

Before i start, a little word about herbs. Depending on the type of meat you're using as a base, you'll want to use a different herb. Obviously if there's something in particular you like, use it - but for those who don't know what goes with what, here's a quick tip; for Lamb use Rosemary, for Beef use Parsley or Coriander Leaf, for Pork use Sage, and for Turkey or any other kind of poultry, use Thyme (feel free to add some lemon juice, too).

 First, peel and chop the shallots and garlic as shown below.

Put them in the frying pan with a little olive oil and a grind of salt. Sweat on a low heat. It's entirely upto you as to whether you caramelise them or not - remember, these will be getting cooked through again.

While the onions & garlic are cooking, take the slice of white bread, and add them to a blender, or food processor. Blitz for a few seconds until you end up with lovely breadcrumbs! Beat the egg, and decant the mince into your mixing bowl.

The next bit is stupidly easy, but very, very messy - you need to get stuck in with your hands, so have a bowl of hand washing water on standby! Add the sweated onions, breadcrumbs and beaten egg to the mince in the bowl. Mix thoroughly.

After a few minutes, you should end up with something looking a bit like this:

From here on out, it's simple. Weigh out however much mince you want your burger to weigh, roll into a ball, and form into patties with your hands. Place the finished patties on your baking sheet and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Then it's a simple matter of cooking them. I prefer to toast each half of the bun for about 30 seconds on each side to stop the bun from disintegrating when you put your hot, juicy burger patty on it. I do this by placing them face down in a DRY frying pan or griddle.

When it comes to cooking the patties themselves, you want as little oil as possible in the pan - lamb can be fatty enough on its own, you don't need to add a lot. For leaner meats, compensate accordingly. The best tip is to cook low and slow. You dont want a raging heat as you'll simply end up charring the outside, while the middle remains raw. For thinner burgers this isn't so much of an issue, but if, like me, you like a nice, thick 8 ounce burger, you'd be wise to check it by taking a skewer and seeing if the juices in the middle run clear.

Remember as well that the burger will continue to cook once you've removed it from the heat, so you can take them off a little earlier than you would normally. It's perfectly fine as well, to cook the burger to medium rare.

Now all you have to do, is plate up - i like to add sliced beetroot and a rasher or two of smoked bacon as an additional topping, but again, all entirely up to you :)