Take an unknown kitchen, quite small, that Erik and myself are just getting used to. A fire alarm about 3 feet away from the kitchen in the hall. And a sudden mad wish of mine to chargrill a juicy, very thick slab of the best Rib-Eye steak, to eat in the Italian way.
‘Tagliata di manzo con rucola e gran.’ Or in English, ‘Chargrilled Beefsteak with Rocket and Parmesan.’
On one of our ‘scouting trips’ to try and discover the interesting food shops and food producers in and around our new home, we drove to Brandesburton, a village about 6/7 minutes car journey from Hornsea. One of our new neighbours had told us that there was a very good butchers in the main street. So off we went, like little children going to a new sweet shop. And we discovered Charter’s, a great butchers taking over one half of the shop, filled with incredibly appetising cuts and choices of meat and poultry, all locally sourced. Through the archway, the other half of the shop is given over to both sweet and savoury pies, snacks and buns baked on the premises. Guess who had scrummy sausage rolls for lunch that day?
I asked the young butcher if he had any Sirloin or bone Rib-Eye steak, as I wanted a very thick piece to fry on my griddle, then slice it downwards thickly, in the Italian style. And lo and behold, the friendly butcher presented us with a fabulous chunk of boned Rib-Eye, and sliced off a great chunk.
So, Cooking with Fire? How come?
Well, Erik had already set the fire alarm off with one of his culinary ventures. Panic had set in – the usual “What the hell?” and “What have you done?” (stupid me!) and “How do we stop it?”
But this time, as I was chef for the evening meal and wanted to blitz the outside of this most perfect rib-eye steak I had ever seen, I took more precautions. Cooking with fire isn’t to be recommended,especially in our new ‘old’ house, still full to the gunnels with our unopened cardboard boxes, which would go up like a flaming rocket if there was the most minute suspicion of a spark of fire.
Early in the afternoon I took the steak out of the fridge, crushed some Garlic and chopped profuse amounts of Parsley, which I scattered over the meat. I also drizzled some good olive oil over – I prefer to oil the steak rather than the griddle pan. Cling-filmed, the dish was put on one side in the kitchen.
My Italian themed dish was to have the addition of Aubergine slices, lightly oiled and cooked under a hot grill until crisp around the edges. A scattering of our own Oregano was sprinkled on these, half way through grilling.
Plus I decided on Courgettes, sliced and cooked in chopped-up plum Tomatoes (heavy with the spicy Black Pepper).
Pinny on, I prepared myself for what was to happen. The Aubergine slices were grilling well and smelling delicious, the Courgettes were absorbing all that gorgeous Tomato flavour, and it was time to heat up the griddle pan. I shut the kitchen door to the hall, warning Erik not to open it (unless he heard screams).
My plan was to heat up the pan so hot that the outside of the steak blackened very quickly on both sides, leaving the inside fairly rare (fingers crossed). Flicking some oil onto the pan’s hot surface, I reckoned it was ready. So first I turned the fan on the cookery hood to full power, then I slapped the piece of Rib-Eye steak hard down on the ridges of the pan. I opened the back door, and using the large,round splatter guard, meant to stop fat splashes, I wafted it back and forth over the smoking pan, fanning the smoke out of the back door. And it worked!! My piece of steak caramelised and blackened on both sides, but no smoke alarm. Thank goodness!
And here it is, in all it’s glory. Rare on the inside, as it should be, and it tasted exactly as I wanted it to.
I sliced thin slivers of Parmesan over the oiled and seasoned Rocket and the dish was ready to eat. Erik declared it perfect. That was praise indeed.