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MM’s Cheap Eats: Valentine’s Day Steak

By Melanie Hughes

I imagine some people will go out for dinner tonight but for those who have chosen to woo their loved ones at home then here are some great tips for cooking the perfect steak.

Cooking a steak is relatively simply, you just have to get your timings right, but somehow it’s just never as good as it is in the restaurant. So, here are a few tips that could make it a bit more special.

1. Firstly, cook the meat from room temperature so take it out of the fridge in advance. You want the steak to cook evenly all over and if it’s too cold in the middle then when the outside is cooked the meat will still be raw in the middle. Also, cooking from fridge temperature will cause the meat to be shocked more and the muscle fibres will tighten up and make the meat slightly chewier. Maybe I’m splitting hairs here but we are striving for perfection, aren’t we?

2. Make sure the meat is well seasoned before you put it in the pan. Season it with salt and plenty of black pepper. You can season it with some herbs too if you like but I find the simpler the better works best.

3. Always oil the steak and not the pan. This will seal the steak and in turn seal in the seasoning you’ve just put on it. It will also mean that the oil won’t smoke in the hot pan and the steak will not be scorched when placed in the hot pan.

4. Always make sure the pan is hot before putting the steak in. More so if you’re using a griddle pan, that way you will get the charred lines across the steak. If you put the steak into a lukewarm pan it’ll be more difficult to get a nice colouring on it, especially if you like it rare.

5. Try not to turn the steaks more than once. The more you manhandle the meat when it’s in the pan, the tougher it will be.

6. Always finish them off with butter in the pan. When the steaks are done on both sides add a decent spoonful of butter and fry the steaks in it for the last minute. The butter will instantly melt into the pan so just take a spoon and spoon it over the top of the steaks as well to make sure they are covered.

7. Finally, and arguably most importantly, let the meat rest! This will allow the fibres to relax, making the meat more tender and juicy. Just lay out some kitchen paper and let it rest there for 2-3 minutes before plating up. Enjoy!

Quick Pepper Sauce

250ml double cream

1 Beef Oxo cube

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Pepper (ground corns and some whole if you like)

Half an onion

1 clove of garlic

Splash of whisky/brandy

This is a really easy and quick sauce that could really impress that special person and it may be the difference between staying night or a return bus journey home if you get it right!

Ok, chop the onion quite fine and crush the garlic. Heat some olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion first then the garlic and cook until soft.

Then add the Oxo cube and whatever alcohol you’re using. Make sure this comes to the boil now as you want to burn off all the alcohol. (If you don’t have any spirits around then white or red wine would be fine.)

I know it seems like a lot to use a whole Oxo cube but you’re going to want the quite beefy. If not, just add a little less.

Then add the peppercorns, add as much or as little as you like and fry this off for a minute. Pepper is a spice, and like all others it’s best when fried for a minute or two to release all the flavours. Then add the mustard and fry for another minute.

This should have all come together as a paste and you can set it aside at this point and re-heat later if you want to make it in advance.

Now just add the cream and heat gently being careful not to overcook and cause the cream to split. Just heat through till warm, add some salt to taste, and then just serve it up over the steak with some salad, roasted tomatoes or chips.

That’s all I can help you with for now, the rest is up to you!

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