Onglet aux échalotes

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

In France this is a classic bistro and brasserie steak. In this country, we tend not to use it as a steak cut; sadly, it goes into the stewing and mincing bin, along with other similarly tasty cuts of beef. It is, however, slowly starting to gain recognition over here and some gastropubs are using it as their steak of choice.

In the US it is referred to as a hanger steak because it hangs from the diaphragm, which comprises the skirt - a cut we are vaguely familiar with but which we often stew. If butchers got a bit more clever with their knives they would break down some of these muscles like they do in France and sell them as prime cuts instead of stewing steak.

Because you get only about 4-6 onglet steaks per animal it may not be commercially viable, but it's worth it because it has such a unique flavour, being next to the kidney on the beast.

If you have a good butcher, he'll know what you are talking about because this cut is sometimes referred to as butcher's steak - the butcher would traditionally keep it for his family as a bit of a treat. You could ask him for a bavette or flank steak which has similar eating qualities, but they need to be trimmed of all muscles and sinew.

4 x 200-250g onglet or bavette steaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp vegetable oil

For the shallot sauce

8 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
A couple of good knobs of unsalted butter
1tsp flour
150ml white wine
250ml good beef stock

First make the sauce. Gently cook the shallots in the butter in a covered pan for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often, until soft and lightly coloured. Add the flour, then gradually stir in the wine to avoid lumps forming. Then add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes until it has reduced by two-thirds and thickened. Season to taste then whisk in the butter and keep warm by covering with a lid or cover tightly with clingfilm.

Heat a ribbed griddle, barbecue or heavy-based frying pan. Season the steak and brush with a little oil. Cook the steaks for about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare (or more, or less, depending on how you like them). Leave the steaks to rest for 3-4 minutes and then cut them into 5-6 slices. Arrange on warmed plates, saving any juices and pouring them into the hot sauce. Spoon the sauce over or serve separately. Pommes allumettes, which are thin French fries, are the perfect accompaniment - or a green salad if you're in a healthy mood. To make pommes allumettes, cut potatoes such as Maris Pipers, Spuntas or Yukon Gold into 1/3- 1/2cm thick chips, then rinse them well and dry them. Pre-heat about 8cm of oil to 130-150C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer and blanch them for 3-4 minutes (you might need to do them in a couple of batches). Raise the temperature to 160-180C and re-fry the chips (again, perhaps in two batches) until crisp and golden. Drain on to kitchen paper and scatter lightly with salt.

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