As mouthwatering as it eventually turned out, this week's recipe had me slightly worried from the word go. We are not big meat eaters in this house and whenever I've cooked it, things like steak magically come out rubbery or burnt. My official food-tasters like their meat well-done, so to me that means "over-done", which isn't really the same thing, is it? Anyway, to cut a long story short, I don't really know how to cook the perfect steak, so more often than not we try not to eat it at home.
Then French Fridays with Dorie throws out this recipe and I am forced to face my....what is it....fear? Weakness? Idiocy? And because I cook meat the way I do, I tried to stick to Dorie's method of cooking the filet mignon as close as possible in the hope that maybe this time, it will turn out fine. By a stroke of luck, I still had my substantial stash of Sarawak peppercorns in the pantry, waiting for their earthy heat to be released.
My stash of Sarawak pepper, and what happened when I
tried to bash them in a plastic bag (ie. holes happened!)
I had bought bags of the stuff while on vacation in Sarawak last year (we are neighboring countries), and though I use it fairly often in my cooking, I still had too much left. This pepper steak recipe was perfect, and the coarsely cracked pepper requirement meant that I got to bash them to my heart's content. Of course, I tried to be cocky about it all and placed the peppercorns in a ziplock bag, poised for bashing. Wrongest move! The plastic bag ended up full of holes due to the sharp bits of cracked pepper... Mental note: next time, stick to the mortar and pestle or the kitchen-towel-wrapping method as suggested in the book.
Young papaya shoestring frites with crispy basil
I followed Dorie's steak-cooking method to a 'T', but did opt to change things up with the accompanying sauce and fries. Using Cognac or any other liquor was out of the question (and not because I'm a member of AA), so I boiled the sauce down with juice pressed out of a very ripe pear instead. Close enough. Then instead of adding the full measure of heavy cream, I halved that and added another half of coconut cream. That gave a lovely sweetness and a tropical touch to the sauce.
Now the frites. Do you remember when I mentioned the low-carb diet going on in this house? (Hint: it isn't me). That forced me to think about alternatives to potatoes. Later on, I went to the market and found these green, young papayas that were on the verge of being ripe but not quite there. Instantly, papaya frites seemed like a really good idea. The young fruit's firm texture is similar to potatoes except that it's not starchy which would probably make it less crisp when fried. I thought I'd give it a try anyway.
A mandoline helped slice the papaya very thinly as I wanted to make shoestring-style fries. You have to really watch the heat on this one as papaya caramelises very quickly. While the strips remained fairly soft in the middle, the edges were wonderfully crispy. I also threw in a handful of aromatic Thai basil leaves into the hot oil at the very end and lifted these out with the papaya. If you've never fried papaya this way before, then you should, the frites tasted hea-ven-ly...
Before and after cooking: Not much difference, is there?
The steak was cooked on the rare side - just for me. While I wasn't used to the pinkish hue of the meat inside, it proved as tender as the thumb I bashed during the peppercorn massacre above. Simply juicy and lovely!
That's it from me this week, I think. It's been a rather busy week, no, month full of blogger's events and challenges (why do I do this to myself?). I'm going to take a blogging break this weekend starting this afternoon, taking in the Wedding-of-the-Century shenanigans going on across many oceans from here. I will, of course, make time during the commercial breaks to check out the other FFWD members' variations of this dish!
Happy weekend to all!