20 ways to ruin a steak

22:01

I have been an embarrassingly bad steak chef. Every time I've tried it has gone monumentally wrong. I never thought there are so many ways to get something so simple so wrong so many times. Almost like perms in the 80s. Why did I keep doing it when my hair always ended up looking like a Russian fur hat.  

Once I had beautiful Scottish venison steaks which I marinated for quite a few days in a red wine marinade and then pan-fried making sure the pan was hot. And hot it was. I completely incinerated them on one side, other side was reasonably crispy too. Through the smoke and the fire alarm husband gently questioned whether we should eat them. He rarely criticises my cooking because he's a nice man, appreciates somebody cooking for him and also knows what’s generally good for him. And that time I couldn't really blame him. I did suggest because it was nice meat and I'd marinated and kept turning it around in the fridge for five bloody days that we cut off the burnt bits, which we did. There was little left of the steaks after that. Potatoes were nice.

Another time I had watched a Gordon Ramsay tutorial on YouTube and flamboyantly showered the steaks with generous amounts of sea salt as Gordon did on his stupid video. The steaks were perfectly cooked this time, but ridiculously salty and inedible. 

There has been a couple of times when we actually have managed to eat them, but only because we have strong jaws and good teeth. Sometimes I think the mistake has been that the steaks have not been out of fridge long enough, maybe the meat hasn’t always been great quality either. And once I barbecued some on the coal barbecue outside and it probably wasn’t hot enough. 

I had kind of given up and husband never asks for steaks. Funny that. But my sister told me that giving up is not what a good wife does.  (She also says if you love your husband you take his last name. His husband's last name doesn't have 13 letters out of which 8 are consonants, is all I say about that.) Apparently every man deserves a proper steak every once in a while, so I’d just better get my act together.

Fillet steak ready for frying

So this time I was ready to kick some serious fillet steak arse. No pre-packed supermarket meat this time. I went to Lidgate the butcher in Notting Hill yesterday and confessed my ineptitude to the nice old butcher (or salesperson) there. I asked him to give me something I wouldn’t be able to mess up. If he'd known all the ways I can mess up a steak he might have sent me out empty-handed. But he gave me two lovely pieces of organic fillet steak. Or he didn’t actually give them, I paid through the nose. I could buy two whole legs of lamb from the supermarket for the price, but hey-ho. Man must have steak.

And yesterday at gym running on the treadmill I watched a playlist of different chefs frying steaks excluding Gordon Saltshaker Ramsay, so I had my technique and timings all polished and confidence levels were soaring together with my pulse.

To avoid the perils of cold meat hitting the pan and cramping in shock, I took the meat with me to the office today. I kept it in the lunch area fridge and I had a post-it note on my laptop saying PIHVIT! (=steaks) which made sure I remembered to take them with me when I left. I didn't realize how freakily cold the work fridge was and steaks were practically frozen, so I upped the car temperature having to open the side window a few times as I was getting a bit queasy from the heat. Never mind that, the steaks got to see some Oxfordshire and were in lovely room (car) temperature when I got home.

At home I poured the red wine into a carafe to breath a little and even gave a bit of mouth-to-mouth to some of it.

I prepped asparagus with lemon and a dish of mushroom, garlic, thyme and goat cheese ready 
to bake for nice light side dishes as we were going to go out for drinks later, so didn't want to make the dinner too heavy.


Oven was heated. Steaks and the cook raring to go. 

It was getting a bit late so I decided to text husband and ask if he was on his way home soon, so that I'd know to time my cooking. He texted: "No, stuck at work, meet you in Bar Italy at 10pm."

So back to fridge go the well travelled and tempered steaks. I may try again tomorrow if I haven't killed husband by then.

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