About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Steak & Chips
Isn't it wonderful how manufacturers think up things that somehow improve our quality of life? Take for example a gift I recently received, an electric deep fryer. This contraption has all the bells and whistles, well one bell and whistle, a thermostat. But it has an enormous capacity, taking a whopping two litres of oil for proper usage. The thing is, and I don't wish to appear ungrateful here for someone bearing gifts is always welcome at our humble abode, however, the fryer remains forlorn in its box long after it was given.

It's not that we don't deep fry, we do on a regular basis, but why on earth would I sack the pot that has given commendable service for over a decade with nary a hint of trouble, for a clunking interloper that takes up twice the space and doesn't do a better job?

So there it sits, waiting for someone to get married.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure an electric deep fryer would be a boon for the right person, the idea of a thermostat makes a snap of temperature control, just set and forget. That takes all the guess work out of frying, all commercial kitchens that I've seen have thermostat controlled fryers. The thing is, after frying all my life, I know without the aid of even a thermometer when the oil is just so, the thermostat is in my head, so to speak.

With apologies to Kitchen hand, last night we had that simple French classic of steak and chips served with a peppercorn sauce. We prefer russet potatoes for chips but sebagos are also good and happily, wherever you buy, in this country at least, unwashed nameless spuds, they usually are sebagos and after those varieties, any white fleshed potato will do, but do stay away from waxy, yellow potatoes, they never turn into decent chips.

So we peel and chip the spuds, giving them a rinse, which gets rid of excess starch and helps stop the chips sticking together. The oil is heated to medium, I don't know, about 160 c and the chips are blanched until they float and are a pale white colour. They are removed and allowed to cool down before being returned to the oil for a second frying at about 190 c which happily equates to flat out on my stove, until they are crisp and golden.

It is probably worth letting you know about my steak with peppercorn sauce too. My favourite cut for this is from the rump and I like it to be about 1" (2.5 cm) thick, regardless of what length it is. The steak is left at room temperature for about one hour then quite heavily salted and dropped into a hot frying pan that has been filmed with oil. It is important for the sauce to use a flat frying pan, not one with ridges. Cook the steak however you like it. With a fillet steak, I prefer it rare but with rump steak, medium to medium rare seems better.

When the steak is done to your liking, remove it to a warm plate and cover, leave in a warm spot. Have ready a finely diced small onion and a finely diced clove of garlic as well as about a tablespoon of green peppercorns. If there is enough oil still in the pan, sweat the onion and garlic for two minutes, add a knob of butter if the oil is insufficient. Turn up the heat to high and add a wineglass full of the red wine you are drinking while cooking (not the Grange though) and the green peppercorns. With a wooden spoon, scrape up all the sediment on the bottom of the frying pan and reduce the wine until it's syrupy, then add about 125 ml of single cream and any juices from the resting steak, a good pinch of salt and about twenty turns of the pepper grinder. I know the extra pepper seems like coals to Newcastle, but is essential to get a good peppery sauce. Reduce for a minute and serve.

Now that's a good dinner for a cold winter's night.

Labels: ,

  posted at 7:11 am

At 12:45 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gadfry you make peppercorn steak & chips sound really wonderful! When your thermometer is in your head and your cup measure is the wine glass, I think you must be cooking nirvana! This one rocks!

At 1:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chips seem to be on the menu! After reading the post over at Hungry in Hogtown about how to make a good chip, I'm kinda eager to try (would you believe that I've never made them before?). I have to admit that I agree with you about these kitchen gadgets, I usually just use my wok with my cooking thermometer whacked in (my head thermometer is still learning!)

At 6:37 pm, Blogger ilingc said...

Why can't my bf's mum cook a steak and chips dinner like you do? I can't face going home to rice for dinner tonight after reading about steak and chips. :(

Re: the deep fryer. I'm guilty of owning one. I admit it is overrated, but it was free! Well sort of, not really... I had to buy something with those credit card points I keep accumulating.

At 2:50 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, though I can just see you replacing the cream with something, let me know if you do because it makes me feel slighly guilty.

Hi ellie, you are partly responsible for the post All Fried Up, see I can muck up a song title too!!!

Hi ilingc, steak and chips is sooo elemental, I can understand your yearning. Those friers do do a good job, I wasn't knocking them, it's just they came on the market too late for me. My daughter read the blog and put her hand up for it...


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