Romantic Rib Steak for Two
I dislike Valentine's Day for more reasons than its possible to count. It would be tedious for me to list them here, and dull for you to read them. Fair to say though, that Top of the pile is the fundamental flaw in the whole charade. How can it possibly be romantic to do something you were expected (in some cases demanded) to do, without impulsiveness, without subtlety, frankly without any style at all?
To my eyes, even the most tasteful gesture is rendered cheap on 14th February.
There is a single light in the dark however, a lonely bean of happiness to be seived from a harvest of crap. This is the perfect excuse to eat like royalty. And this is what we should do. Not in the restaurants, amongst the sex-crazed twenty-somethings, but in the safety of our own homes, where we can create something sensual, thoughtful and delicious with our own hands. Perhaps we can salvage the day of romance yet. And what's more, we'll do it whilst drinking champagne without restaurant mark-ups.
So what to eat on a romantic evening at home?
Red meat for sure.
Something to share, perhaps?
A large piece of red meat.
Who does romance better than anyone? The French, of course!
A large piece of red meat à la française it is then.
The cut that instantly springs to mind is a côte du boeuf. A thick, juicy rib steak, on the bone. But better still, a rib cut from right next to the sirloin, marrying the tenderness of the sirloin with the succulence of the rib.
I opted for 21 day aged Aberdeen Angus. You get what you pay for, and this is a big occasion.
Partnered by chips fried in beef dripping and sauce Bordelaise, a rich red wine based sauce.
For the beef
1 rib steak, on the bone. Have your butcher cut this for you. Ideally it should weigh around 800g. It should be at room temperature when you cook it.
A heavy based, oven proof frying pan.
A little olive oil
A knob of butter
A sprig of thyme to baste with.
For the sauce
1 shallot, finely sliced
80g button mushrooms, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
125ml red wine
200ml good beef stock
1 handful chopped parsley, to finish
For the chips
4 largish floury potatoes
Deep fat fryer (I use dripping in mine)
It is best to start by preparing your chips, up to the point where they are ready to finish off.
Heat the fat in your fryer to 130°C.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into even 1cm chips. Wash in cold water and dry off.
Lower the chips into the fryer and cook for ten minutes, to cook through but not brown. (You may need to do this in batches)
At this point, put them to one side.
Preheat your oven to 180°C and heat the large oven proof frying pan on a medium-high heat. Season the steak all over with salt and rub with oil. Place in the hot frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side, then drop in the butter and fry for another 1-2 minutes on each side, basting the butter over the meat with the thyme sprig. The beef can now go into the oven for 10-12 minutes (longer if you prefer it well done).
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt half the butter in a frying pan until it is foaming. Add the shallots and garlic, stir and allow to cook for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms.
Another minute later, add the wine, bring to the boil and reduce by half.
Add the stock, then simmer until the volume has reduced by half again. Put to one side and keep warm.
Remove the steak from the oven and set aside to rest, while you finish the chips.
Heat the fryer to 190°C and fry the chips for 4-5 minutes until they are golden.
Bring the sauce up to temperature if it has cooled and season to taste and add the remaining butter and parsley.
Season and slice the rested steak and serve with the chips and sauce.
What could be better to follow a steak, on a romantic night, than an incredibly easy passion fruit and chocolate dessert...