Driving through Spain some years ago, my friend Joe Brodsky, a Los Angeles businessman and lover of wine and food, found himself around lunchtime in a town whose name and precise location he cannot remember. He noticed a line of people standing outside a small restaurant, so he did the logical thing: He joined the queue. The restaurant’s specialty, he found out once he got in, was deep-fried steak. He tried it, loved it, and figured out how to reproduce it at home. The first time I tried it at his house, I fell in love with it, too. This is, simply, a great way to cook steak. The very hot oil seals the meat instantly, keeping it wonderfully juicy inside; being literally surrounded by heat, it cooks evenly throughout; the chocolate-brown crust that forms on the meat’s exterior is wonderfully good; and the meat absorbs little if any of the oil.
Heat oil almost to the smoking point in a deep-fryer or large stockpot with at least a 3-gallon capacity. (Test the oil’s temperature by carefully putting the end of a wooden toothpick into it. If it turns dark brown at once, the oil is hot enough.)
With long tongs, wearing a glove or oven mitt and keeping your face away from the pot, carefully place 2 steaks at a time into oil. (Oil will foam up.) Cook for exactly 7 minutes. Remove with tongs, drain on paper towels, and keep warm while remaining steaks cook. Just before serving, salt and pepper steaks to taste.
(A pat of plain or maître d’hôtel butter allowed to melt on top of each steak adds a nice gloss to the meat, but isn’t necessary.)
© 1992 Colman Andrews. All rights reserved.