A: The prime cuts of beef are best eaten with the minimum fuss – just brushed with olive oil and seasoned with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – cooked on each side over a hot ridged griddle pan. The meat is so rich with flavour that you wouldn’t want to lose the taste with spices and herbs. The best piece of meat I ever had was probably in Florence where they serve you the prime cut of a T-Bone steak as Bistecca alla Fiorentina. The Bistecca alla Fiorentina is served by weight with a kilo being the minimum. So you need a group of about 4 to 6 to really appreciate the meat without feeling overfed.
The fillet and sirloin steaks are prime cuts that are quite popular and can be cooked as individual portions without much fuss. However, the restaurant favourite and probably more popular in the US then here in Europe, the Rib-eye steak is not a prime cut. It is true that you get more meat for your money when you buy a Rib-eye steak and the meat is quite nice too since it is the trimmed fillet, or eye, of the forerib – the bovine equivalent to the best part of a rack of lamb.
To prepare 2 rib-eye steaks you need:
2 200 gm rib-eye steaks
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
20 gm Stilton cheese, I have used a blue Shropshire
25 gm softened butter
1 tsp finely chopped fresh chives
sea salt and pepper
enough olive oil to brush the meat on both sides
First prepare the cheese-butter melt. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot to the melted butter and cook for about 10 minutes to soften. Then keep it aside for 10 minutes to cool. Meanwhile break the cheese with a fork to form a mash. Add the chives, melted butter-shallot and the cheese together and mix well in the cold pan. Season with salt and pepper. Finally roll this mix into a sausage shape and cover with cling film. Chill this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or just before you are ready to serve.
To cook the steak, rub both sides of the steak with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle pan in high heat. When the pan is hot, fry both steaks 2 minutes on each side to get a golden-brown colour. Transfer the steaks to a baking tray and keep aside to cool.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Bake the steak for 6 minutes. For a medium steak bake for another 2 minutes or 4 minutes for well done.
Take the cheese-butter mix out of the fridge, cut into half and place each half on top of the two hot steaks out of the oven. Allow to rest the steaks for 2 minutes before serving.
A good time to prepare the runner beans would be before switching on the oven for the final preparation of the steaks. At home, we usually get a glut of runner beans in summer when all the runner bean climbers in the garden seem to produce fruits at the same time. We have to constantly look around to find ways of consuming the produce fresh from the garden and the recipe here is quite an easy one to follow. For two portions you need:
Around 175 gm stringless runner beans, cut into elongated diamond shapes
1 shallot or half banana shallot, finely chopped
10 gm butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp golden caster sugar
First bring a saucepan of water with a table spoon of salt to boil. When boiling, add in the runner beans and leave to boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the water completely and transfer the vegetables back to the saucepan.
Melt the butter in oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and fry gently for 10 minutes till they are soft and very slightly coloured. Add the sugar and vinegar and let it bubble for 1 minute. Toss the buttery shallot with the beans together in the saucepan, divide into two portions and serve.
The slightly sweet runner beans give a good contrast to the meaty flavour of the beef. Instead of the usual accompaniments to a steak, I think this alternative gives quite a tasty option. If you try it at home, do let us know what you think.