Sunday, 22 April 2012

Ode to the Skirt Steak: Recipes and Where to Eat it

I love steak. So much so that I’ve belonged to a steak club for over five years, once ate steak five times in one week and still brazenly cook it in order to make friends. I remember being unable to afford a full three-courses at Hawksmoor when it first opened, but going to steak club and spanking £45 just on a juicy rib eye and absolutely nothing else. That’s how much I love steak. 

I’m a fan of the textured cut - one with a bit of chew and packs a meaty flavour punch. And so I introduce one of my favourite cuts - the skirt steak or bavette. It’s a cheaper cut (at one butchers the fillet is £45/kg, whereas skirt will be about £14.50/kg) but no less inferior. It’s a flat steak with beautiful marbling and takes flavour and marinating well (Anthony Bourdain recommends it grilled over an open fire of dried grape vines or good wood) and benefits from the smokiness of a Josper grill (like Les Deux Salons near Covent Garden). 
Bavette with Green Sauce at Duck Soup, Soho
You’ll find it on many a menu in London - I've seen it gracing Galvin's and Vinoteca's. Most recently, I ate one at Dean Street’s Duck Soup - sliced into ribbons and lifted with green sauce and served with sumac-sprinkled new potatoes and wilting wild garlic. 

But this is the easiest thing to cook at home. I find there’s nothing quite like a potter round the butchers and bringing home that precious, vermillion and marbled slab of meat, and unwrapping the paper like a present. The Ginger Pig’s skirt is second to none but we’ve had great ones from our local butcher down on the Northcote Road. 

Because it’s a coarse steak, it’s fit for the extremes of flash-frying or slow-cooking. I’ve not tried the slow-cooking before largely due to impatience (why wait 3 hours for something that takes five minutes?) So instead here are a few quick recipes on what to do with this magnificent cut. 
A few things to do with a skirt steak
How to cook the steak
Leave the steaks out so that they are room temperature. Lightly oil and season both sides liberally just before you’re going to cook it. Heat a flat-bottomed pan until smoking hot, and sear the steak on both sides for literally two minutes one side, a minute and a half on the other (I put my timer on). Do not be tempted to move the steak around in the pan. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
With shallots
In the same pan, with the steak juices, heat up some more oil and cook finely chopped shallots with a sprinkling of sugar to caramelise and salt on a lower heat for 5 minutes. When a glorious brown, sprinkle on top of the steak. 
With garlic and parsley butter

Make a garlic and parsley butter about an hour or two before by mixing butter with finely chopped parsley and half a clove of crushed garlic. Roll into a sausage, wrap with clingfilm and put in the fridge to firm up. When ready to serve your steak, slice disks of butter, take the clingfilm off, place atop the unsliced steak and let it melt in the residual heat.
Steak sandwich

Steaks on the Japanese barbecue soon to turn into...steak sandwiches

Make a steak sandwich with a healthy smear of Tracklements horseradish and onions. 
(Fantastic and quick for entertaining as we did here on the Japanese barbecue)

Please do let me know if you have any more bavette recipes (more excuses to cook steak).