A little over a century ago the dietary reformer Dr Phillip Muskett is reported to have written "it is a matter of deep conjecture as to what most people would do if prohibition were placed on chops, steak and sausages for breakfast".
Around half a century later Lenny Lower wrote in his comic Here's Luck: "Where in the world would you find anything more sustaining, more inspiring, more satisfying, more invigorating, more absolutely culminating and fulfilling than steak and eggs?"
Back then steak was much more than just a filler-upper. It was chic.
The pure love for the protein-saturated diet continued pretty well unabated until the late 1980s when the "c" word (cholesterol) came to prominence.
Suddenly we were warned away from fat by nutritionists, cardiologists, and all sorts of health police.
In fear of our lives we obeyed.
After a bit of a slow start we finally came to realise that it wasn't the steak that was the problem, more importantly we learnt that by removing the saturated fats from the steak prior to cooking we were once again able to enjoy lean succulent steaks, an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Even better today as we now have rigorous measures (the Quality Mark) to guarantee the steak we are purchasing is the right choice.
When purchasing steak I like to purchase sufficient in a single piece large enough to serve the number of portions I require.
As an example if I was to have six people dining at home and wanted to serve sirloin I would buy a piece of quality mark beef sirloin (also known as porterhouse and strip loin) of around 1.5 kilograms from the centre or shoulder end of the whole cut. I would remove all the outside fat (the selvedge fat) and skin leaving a pure piece of steak. From there I would cut it into the portions to serve individually or seal and cook as a whole piece being carved later.
This week because I am a great fan of the above I am going to cut the pieces into individual portions, seal each on a ribbed pan, finish cooking in the oven, then serve in a way you will really enjoy.
BEEF SIRLOIN ON AGRIA WASABI MASH AND VEGETABLE SPAGHETTI WITH TARRAGON JUS
For the meat
1.5kg of quality mark New Zealand beef trimmed as illustrated, lightly rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the agria wasabi mash
1kg agria potatoes, cleaned and not peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp wasabi paste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the vegetable spaghetti
1 carrot, peeled
200g swede, peeled
1 cleaned leek
2 cleaned and trimmed courgettes
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
For the tarragon jus
2 tsp olive oil
250g shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups good beef stock
leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Heat a ridged cast iron pan until smoking and sear the six pieces of quality mark sirloin all around to completely seal.
Meanwhile heat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Place the cast iron pan and sirloin steak into the oven and allow to pan roast for 4 minutes or rare, 6 minutes for medium are, 7 minutes for medium and 9 minutes for well done.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 7-8 minutes in a warm place with a clean cloth covering the meat.
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil until cooked.
Place the wasabi paste, milk, cream and butter into a saucepan and bring to almost boiling. Once the potatoes are cooked, strain and roughly mash.
Add the cream, milk, wasabi paste mixture and whip.
Season with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and hold warm until ready for service.
Cut all the vegetables into julienne (long matchsticks)
Place the butter and olive oil into a heavy based pan and bring up to temperature without browning.
Add the vegetables and toss until al dente (still with a slight crunch)
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and hold warm until service.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots over a medium heat until golden and transparent.
Add the stock and boil until reduced by half.
Add the tarragon leaves and vinegar. Season to taste with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Hold warm until service.
Serve the potatoes and vegetables on pre-warmed plates, slice the meat and place on top and spoon the tarragon jus over.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.
- The Southland Times