Rare delight: Bill Granger cooks with supermarket steaks
Supermarket steaks may lack the tenderness of the very best served in restaurants – but there's plenty you can do to make them special, says our chef
Sunday 15 September 2013
A simply grilled steak is one of my favourite meals and these days we're spoilt with the meat that we can order at steak houses such as Hawksmoor, or buy from great local butchers. Once you get used to that kind of quality, your average supermarket steak can turn out to be quite disappointing.
Even so, I don't always get the chance to make a special trip to the butcher. I work, have three kids – real life's too busy… So I've learnt to make compromises and find that once you get over the fact that supermarket steak won't necessarily be as tender or have the same depth of flavour, it's easy to find ways of bringing it up a level or two.
These three recipes hold fond memories for me – the steak with peppercorn sauce takes me right back to the 1970s and a time when anything French felt terribly sophisticated; the gyudon transports me to a winter living in Japan as a wide-eyed 19-year-old; and the Thai salad, pictured right, is one of the first dishes I had where I tasted that wonderful sweet-hot-sour combination that has influenced my whole approach to cooking. It is food from my past – but it's more than survived the test of time.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 75 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
This is possibly one of the easiest weekday meals you can make. Make sure you take the time to slice the beef as thinly as possible, for the loveliest, tenderest result.
1 large white onion, cut into wedges
250ml/8fl oz light, good-quality chicken stock
3 tbsp caster sugar
125ml/4fl oz sake
125ml/4fl oz mirin
125ml/4fl oz soy sauce
3 cm ginger, grated
1 x 600g/1¼lb thick-cut fillet steak, very thinly sliced
Steamed Japanese rice
Wilted baby spinach
Shredded spring onion
Place the onions in a pan. Pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes, until softened slightly. Stir in the sugar, sake, mirin, soy and ginger and simmer for 3 minutes. Drop in the sliced beef and simmer for 1 minute, until just cooked. Set aside for 1 minute.
Place rice into 4 serving bowls. Top with wilted spinach and some of the beef and onions and ladle over some of the hot broth. Scatter with spring onions and serve.
Sirloin with green peppercorn sauce and crisp potatoes
I'm not one to recommend overdoing it at every meal, but if you are going to treat yourself to some extravagance, I can't think of a better way. Whenever we have this on the restaurant menu, it seems to outsell any other steak recipe. But you might want to schedule a run for the morning…
500g/1lb new potatoes
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
4 x 250g/8oz sirloin steaks
2 tbsp green peppercorns in brine, drained
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp brandy
125ml/4fl oz good-quality beef stock
3 tbsp crème fraîche
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Cook the potatoes in a pan of salted boiling water with the garlic, until tender. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, tear the potatoes in half. Place them in a large roasting tin and stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes, until golden and crisp.
Season the steaks with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil. When the butter starts to foam, sear the steaks for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare, adding another minute on each side for medium. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Return the pan to the stove and reduce the heat to medium. Add the peppercorns and garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the brandy, simmer for 1 minute then add the stock, crème fraîche and mustard and simmer for 2 minutes to thicken. Serve over the steak, with the potatoes.
Thai beef salad
I could never be a vegetarian – just the thought of it makes me crave steak. But I also need freshness and crunch in meals, so a Thai salad ticks all the boxes for me. It's pure comfort without guilt.
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 x 300g/10oz sirloin steaks
Half iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges
Handful mint leaves
Handful coriander leaves
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Handful toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dressing
1 lemongrass stalk, finely sliced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp lime juice
Combine the oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Use to marinate the beef for 30 minutes, or ideally overnight.
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
To cook the beef, heat a frying pan or griddle pan over a high heat. Wipe the marinade off the steaks and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside for 5 minutes to rest then slice thinly.
Toss together the lettuce, herbs, cucumber, onion and beef in a bowl with the dressing. Top with the peanuts and serve.
Food stylists: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds.
Prop stylist: Rachel Jukes
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