##There comes a time that I just crave a steak…plain and simple.

Nigel Slater is one of the food world’s geniuses and I have adapted this recipe from him, because it still amazes me that there can be something so perfect and simple in life as a good steak with béarnaise sauce and possibly a wad of frites on the side. Nigel’s recipe for béarnaise sauce is simple and uncomplicated, and the steak is however you like it.

I’m going to tell you how to cook it medium rare, as that’s just the way it should be. Obviously, if you like it more well done, leave it in the pan for as long as you like.

For the steak:
1 good, thick rump steak, or fillet steak, a little thicker than your thumb.
Olive oil
Sea salt – good flaky Maldon salt – you can find it in El Corte Inglés
Fresh ground black pepper
1 bottle of your favourite Rioja

For the Béarnaise sauce:
2 egg yolks, free range and very fresh
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1 tbsp of tarragon vinegar
150gms of room temperature butter, in cubes

In a bowl or plate, lay your steak out and generously cover it with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Leave it out to come to room temperature while you organise the following.

Find a glass bowl (definitely has to be glass) that will sit comfortably in the top of saucepan, without touching the bottom. Put a couple of inches of water in the saucepan so that it will steam the bowl sitting in it, but not actually splash it. Over medium heat, bring the water to a gentle, rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, turn it down so it simmers very gently and place the glass bowl on top.

Put the 2 egg yolks into the bowl with the Dijon if you’re using it, and whisk in the tarragon vinegar. Now, piece by piece add the cubes of butter, whisking continuously until each piece is dissolved before adding the next. You will notice your sauce start to change to a thick velvety yellow. Once all the butter has been incorporated, take the pan off the heat and leave the bowl in a warm place while you grill your steak. Be sure to never let the pan get too hot or your egg yolks will scramble instead of emulsifying with the butter.

Take a good cast iron griddle plate and put it over high heat – use a good, heavy-based fry pan if you don’t have a ridged griddle pan. When the pan is really hot, turn the heat down ever so slightly and place the oiled and peppered steak on it. Press it down gently with the back of a spatula. DO NOT be tempted to turn the steak – leave it for at least 2 minutes for rare and 3 minutes for medium rare. If you try to turn the steak and it sticks to the pan, it is NOT ready to turn.

People the world over cannot resist the urge to “steak flip”, and I promise this will only lead to a tough, overdone steak. Turn it once and once only. Cook one side first and then the other and you will have melt-in-your-mouth steak to die for! After 2-3 minutes you can flip your steak, sprinkle a generous amount of Maldon salt onto the cooked side and perhaps a little dab of butter.

After another 2-3 minutes for the second side, turn the heat down, remove your steak to a warm plate and set aside. Splash a couple of tablespoons of Rioja onto the still-hot griddle pan and swirl it around to bubble and de-glaze all the sticky steak bits. Pour this scant but delicious sauce over your steak.

Now spoon a healthy (contradiction in terms, I know) amount of béarnaise sauce onto the side of your plate with your steak and get stuck in. Wash down with the rest of the bottle of Rioja. Try not to think about all the butter, you only live once, so what the heck?!

NB: If your béarnaise sauce looks like it has “split” or curdled – don’t panic! Find another glass bowl and add another egg yolk and a bit of mustard, whisking constantly, slowly pour the split sauce back into the new egg yolk mix until you have the same sinfully velvet sauce as before.

¡Buen provecho!

Erica Choate

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