For me, this is the archetypal French bistro dish, yet it is seldom found in the UK and, if it is, it can often be disappointing. There’s no big secret, just buy good-quality beef and cook it briefly. It’s never going to be as tender as fillet, but the flavour is knock-out. What’s more, it’s cheap. However, you do need a damn good gratin dauphinoise to accompany it. Sautéed shredded spring or winter greens make a colourful addition too.
First make the gratin dauphinoise:
About 20 minutes before the gratin will be ready, prepare the steaks. Heat 60g butter and a splash of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Season the steaks and sear in the butter and oil over a high heat until nicely browned on both sides. Tip half of this darkened oil and butter away. Then add the remaining butter with the garlic and thyme, and season again. Lower the heat a little and cook the steaks for about 4 minutes on each side, basting frequently.
When cooked, lift on to warmed serving plates and keep warm. Add the shallots to the pan with the red wine, increase the heat and reduce by two-thirds. Pour in the juice that has seeped from the cooked steaks, add a knob of butter, season to taste and pour over the meat. This is a very simple roasting juice.
Serve the steaks with the gratin and the greens if you are serving them.
© 2008 Anthony Demetre. All rights reserved.