Sometimes you just need a bit of a treat for supper. Usually on a Friday evening. Something quick, easy and very very tasty. Trouble is, what you have in mind may not be what is in the larder! Trouble is, what you have in mind may not be hugely good for you if you have it EVERY Friday! So here is an adaptable recipe which I find hits the spot whatever ingredients I have and whatever my waist size is… Once upon a time I would never have ‘adapted’ a recipe. How far have I come in my cooking confidence!
First, though, a word about ingredients. Miss Reeve was a great one for espousing the cause of local, quality, good tasting, simple yet ‘packs a punch’ (she wouldn’t have used that expression I know…) ingredients. I recently discovered some good beef. From a local farmer. Which actually has a taste. Now I always knew I could taste beef more than any other meat, but I tasted this beef and… It is a bit like love – you think you know it until you really find it! And whatever recipe you use, the main ingredient should stand out as the main ingredient and not be subsumed into sauces which hide the very taste that should be the master of the dish. That much I have learnt.
This is where the beef comes from: http://www.downonthefarm.co.uk/ Really good stuff. And, for those of you who are fed up with my mantra ‘Is it kindly lived, kindly killed?’ I refer to it again. I have struggled with eating meat – welfare issues mainly as I love meat, I love farmers (married the son of one), I love supporting a breed of businessmen and women (for it is a business) who also look after the land of this fair isle whilst struggling to provide decent food, profitably, at a price that we idiots as a nation often baulk at. So I buy meat, but not often, I pay for good quality meat, and I check out the welfare elements. I have not yet asked how long the animals have to travel from the farm to the abbattoir but I shall get round to it!
So – to the recipe. 2 versions – one luscious and treatful, the other healthy and… well still good and tasty!
This is Miss Reeve’s recipe. And look – a little bit of an instruction – ‘without boiling’. Her warnings are so rare that when I find one, I take note. It is also the first meal I recall her cooking for my husband and I.
Ingredients: Versions 1 and 2 [healthy in square brackets!]:
1 lb steak cut into thin slices. Make sure it is the best steak – you aren’t cooking it for long so it needs to be very tender. I go for fillet steak. Hence the treat! [If you don’t have steak, try chicken. Make sure it is GOOD chicken – kindly lived and kindly killed. And no water should come from it as you cook it – a bad sign of added ‘stuff’ to plump it up. We get our chickens from the same place as the beef. Magnificently tasting. If you don’t have the luck of a good farmer nearby you could try Heal Farm.]
Butter. In which to fry the meat. Just a dollop if you have a non-stick pan. If there is any fat on the steak, that works just as well – I like a wee bit of fat – it’s where some of the best taste is. [You could use olive oil.]
1/2 pint sour cream. You can make your own if you have cream (single or double works) – just add a bit of lemon juice drop by drop and whip it up so I have learnt. [Use yoghurt for a healthier version.]
Add chervil (I grow it – if you don’t, use fennel instead. Anything aniseed tasting will do.) Parsley – add lots of it. It gives the dish colour but also the taste of proper home grown parsley is great – curly or flat leaved. I find flat leaved has the punchier taste. A bit of salt and pepper. You could add lemon juice. In the photo I have shown lime juice as that is all I had but I tend not to use any acidic juices as I find the aniseed taste gives it a punch enough.
Serve with boiled rice – I use brown rice because I like the taste and the texture. But a nice bit of mashed potato or even a baked one is good. Try some spring cabbage with it.
All these strong flavours still don’t hide the taste of decent beef. If you don’t buy good meat, then the taste of the sauce etc will hide the meat’s. So get the good beef! Or chicken.
How to make it:
1. Lay out your ingredients
2. Cut the steak [chicken] into small thin pieces. Remember, you are just quickly frying it. You can at this stage (a bit late I know!) tell if your meat is poor – lots of water will come out. It shouldn’t. Spoon it up if it does.
3. Add your butter [oil of choice] to the pan. Heat it up. Not too hot but hot enough to fry. Hence Miss Reeve’s ‘without overcooking’ as you put in your meat and fry it.
4. WAIT until the meat has stopped bubbling/it is cooked and then turn it down. You don’t want the cream to curdle when you add it so just keep it on a low heat. Add your sour cream [yoghurt]. If it does curdle, don’t worry. Such is life and nobody will die! But if such things bother you, you just add some acid (ie your lemon or lime juice] and stir it. Keep it on a low heat and heat it all through. Notice Miss Reeve’s ‘without boiling’ for this very reason.
5. Add your chervil, your chopped parsley, salt and pepper and, if you want, lemon or lime.
6. Then, heat it through again gently.
And there you have it.
A lovely quick tasty Friday evening supper.