Quite possible one of the quickest, simplest, but most impressive thing you can cook up for a special occasion (or no occasion at all)!
- double steak (1 – 1.5″ thick)
- several small cubes Butter
- 2 cloves Garlic
- few sprigs Thyme or Rosemary
- Canola or grapeseed oil for searing
- Salt & Pepper
For Red Wine Sauce
- few tbsp Red wine
- few tbsp Chicken stock
- Reserved garlic and herbs from steak
For Mashed Potatoes
- 1 or 2 Russet Potatoes
- Lots of butter
- Reserved butter from the steak
- 1.5 cups whole milk
- 1 tbsp crème fraiche (or 1 tsp horseradish)
- Heavy bottom frying pan
- Tongs (or bare hands if you’re sufficiently metal)
- Large spoon
- Potato masher or ricer
- Thermometer (optional)
NOTE: When preparing steak or any other larger cut of meat, take it out of the fridge an hour or so before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. Cooking meat that is ice-cold will result in an exterior that is overcooked or burnt and an interior that is raw.
The first job is to get the potatoes started. Wash the skin of the russet potatoes thoroughly to remove any potential dirt and place the potatoes into a pan of COLD (that is very important!) water. Bring the water slowly to a boil and let the potatoes cook until completely tender, about 30-45 minutes. A knife should be able to pierce the potato and come out easily. While they are cooking, also place a small saucepan with the milk on a low heat to warm.
While the potatoes are simmering, get the rest of the ingredients and equipment ready and within reach. The last thing you want is to be running all over the kitchen searching for what you need while cooking. Make sure everything is in front of you and within reach before you start. (Cheffy note: this is called mise en place or “everything in it place”, the religion that every kitchen runs by)
For the steak, place the pan on a medium-to-medium high heat. While that is getting to temperature, rain the salt down on the steak on both sides from high up to get an even seasoning. Don’t add pepper because that will tend to scorch and impart an acrid burnt taste to the final dish; save it for after cooking.
When the pan is sufficiently hot, add a generous amount of oil and check the consistency. The oil should have the consistency of water, not viscous. Gently place the steak into the pan and a lovely sizzling sound should be audible. If there is no sizzling, remove the steak immediately and wait for the oil to get hot enough.
Leave the steak to sear for about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not move it about too much, but check underneath occasionally. Once a golden-brown crust has formed, flip the steak over with a pair of tongs and repeat with the other side. When both sides have been nice seared, flip the steak back over and lower the heat to medium. The initial high heat is to obtain the golden sear and now we are lowering the heat to cook the inside of the steak.
Add the butter into the pan along with the thyme and the crushed garlic cloves. Do not peel the garlic; the skin will prevent it from burning. The butter will capture the flavor of the herbs and garlic, absolutely delicious. Spoon over this aromatic-infused butter over the steak a good 4-5 times on both sides. Continue to baste the steak in the butter on both sides until the steak is cooked to your liking.
Cooking times will vary depending on how you like your steak. The best way to tell doneness is to use a thermometer
|Rare||130° F / 58° C|
|Medium Rare||135-140° F / 60-62°C|
|Medium Well||155° F / 65° C|
|Well Done||160-165° F / 70° C|
However, we can roughly tell using the “finger test”. The key here is to compare the firmness of the steak with the firmness of the fleshy area of the palm when each finger is pressed to the thumb. So for instance, if you touch your index finger to your thumb and feel the fleshy part of the palm, that corresponds with what a rare steak will feel like. As you touch each subsequent finger to the thumb, that area of the palm will get harder and harder, which corresponds to medium rare, medium well, and well done steak.
|Rare||Index finger to thumb|
|Medium Rare||Middle finger to thumb|
|Medium Well||Ringer finger to thumb|
|Well Done||Pinky to thumb|
Once the steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from a pan and leave it to rest on a plate for about as long as it was cooked. This step is critical for the tender and juicy results. Do not cut into the steak immediately after cooking! Reserve the garlic, thyme, and melted butter.
While the steak is resting, get back to the potatoes. If the potatoes are boiled tender, the skin should come off easily simply by using fingers or a paper towel. Remove all the skin and mash. If you have a ricer, this will yield a very fluffy, smooth mashed potato but it isn’t necessary. If you don’t have a masher, a fork will do the job just fine too.
After the potatoes are all mashed, add the milk and butter little by little and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. A rule of mashed potatoes is the more butter added, the better it will taste (shocking, I know). So add butter to your heart’s content and warm milk little by little.
For extra flavor, take the leftover butter that the steak was basted with and add that to the mix. To finish the mashed potatoes, add either the crème fraiche or horseradish. The sourness will prevent the potatoes from becoming too sickeningly rich. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.
To finish the dish, take the pan with thyme and garlic and bring it back up to a high heat and add the red wine. If a stainless steel pan was used, there will be leftover brown bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called fond and it is pure steak flavor so don’t waste it! The wine will wash the fond off and incorporate it to the final sauce. Reduce the wine down to a syrupy consistency then add the chicken stock and reduce to the same consistency again. Remove the garlic and butter, then finish the red wine sauce with just a little bit of butter.
Just before serving, slice the steak into thick strips and crack a little bit of pepper.
Then plate up to your liking and serve up!