Welcome to Yet Another Cooking Blog.

As you may have guessed, this is a blog about cooking - in particular my cooking. It has been mentioned to me several times that I seem a little obsessed with food, so I have decided to blog about my menus, my successes, my failures and anything else that springs to mind

Monday, 14 February 2011

Steak and chips

Everyone knows how to cook steak and chips, yes?

Not quite.  Its very easy to end up with a steak that would be suitable as a piece of shoe leather (and probably as tasty).  And chips?  even easier to end up with soggy bags of fat on your plate.

In my opinion, if your steak needs tenderising with a mallet prior to cooking it, it isn't suitable to be cooked as a steak.  A tough piece of meat needs slow cooking to bring the best out of it.  I always look for a steak with some fat marbling through it, so that it stays beautifully tender.  True, it may not be healthy, but everything in moderation and all that!

When it comes to cooking a steak I always use a griddle pan.  Some people use a grill, but I don't think my grill gets hot enough to do it justice.  just prior to cooking, I season with salt and pepper (sometimes substituting regular salt for garlic salt).  I put the steak into a very hot griddle pan, turning once halfway through.  You will notice I haven't given cooking times for the steak, as this would vary dependent on the cut, the thickness of the steak, and how the person eating it likes their steak cooked.

How to feel that a steak is cooked correctly

Steak can be cooked blue, rare, medium, well done or somewhre between each of these.  try the following to understand how your steak should feel when pressed to assess how it is cooked.

Touch your thumb and first finger together, and then press on the ball of your thumb.  You will feel that the flesh is quite soft.  Now press your thumb and middle finger together.  You will feel that the ball of your thumb feels a little firmer.  As you move along to each finger you will find it gets firmer, with the little finger touching the thumb the firmest.  If you assume that index finger equals rare, and little finger equals well done, you can now feel how your steak will feel when pressed.

Once you have cooked your steak, it should always rest for a few minutes on a warm plate otherwise it will be tough and you won't get the best from your steak.

Now that you can cook a nice steak, the next thing to think about is the chips to go with it.  I very rarely cook chips at home (maybe once every 2 months) so when I do, I want to get them right.

The first thing is choosing your potatoes.  You don't want a waxy potato, you want a floury potato so that the inside of the chip is soft and fluffy.  Potatoes such as rooster or Maris Piper are good chipping potatoes.  The next thing you need is the oil to cook them in.  If you want to use a bottled oil, it is best to use a flavourless oil such as sunflower oil.  Olive oil has a strong flavour and the flavour will taint the chips.  If you are feeling decadent (or remember the 'olden days') then beef fat is a fantastic fat for cooking chips in.  It tolerates the high temperatures very well.

I do not have a deep fat fryer, so I fry chips in a large frying pan with deep sides.  I heat the oil, and test it with a piece of bread (it should brown within approximately 30 seconds).  Once you have peeled and cut your potatoes, make sure they are very dry before you put them in the oil, otherwise it will spit, and that hurts if it hits you.  Put the chips into the pan ensuring that all of the chips are in the oil.  The oil should bubble around the chips and then settle down to an oil equivalent of a 'high simmer'. You may need to turn the pan down slightly if they are browning quickly.  As we cook the chips twice, we don't want them to brown to much on the first fry.   Dependent on how fat your chips are, the chips may take about 10 minutes to cook.  Take them out and drain them well on some kitchen paper.  While the chips are out of the pan is when I normally cook my steaks, so that while they are resting on a plate, the chips can get their second fry.  The point of the second fry is to get the chips nice and crispy (soggy chips are not good).  Bring the heat back up on your pan (test again with bread if needed), and return the chips to the frying pan.  The point of this fry is to colour and to ensure the outside is crispy.  so they don't need to be in the pan long.  As soon as they are a lovely golden colour they can be removed and drained.

I hope you enjoy your steak and chips after reading this, I did!

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