Who doesn’t like a good steak? Vegetarians, I guess. But except them? People who don’t eat red meat. But if you exclude all those too, who doesn’t like a good steak? Nobody. A tough steak isn’t very fun, but by cooking it sous vide in a water bath, you can get a perfect result every time. I’ll be serving my perfect steak with a home made béarnaise sauce and Hasselback potatoes. There are various recipes for the sauce, some of which omit the chervil. I don’t know why that is. It does a wonderful job in packing the sauce with a strong herbal flavour. It’s truly amazing. As for the potatoes, they’re said to have been invented by an intern at Hotel Hasselbacken in Sweden. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a simple way of making something good an nice looking out of ordinary potatoes.
To make things simple, this recipe is per person. Depending on how much you eat, pick the size of your steak. One of the many wonderful ways of cooking meat like this, is that you can’t really overdo it. It will never be less or more red than what the water temperature makes it. As for people who say Wagyu beef, the fine “Japanese style” cattle, isn’t very well suited for this cooking method… you’re wrong.
For the perfect steak and the steak-sauce you’ll need:
- A good thick slice of steak (I’m using a wagyu beef, but any good beef will do)
- Red wine
- 1/2 tablespoon of sugar (unless you use port wine, then its sweetness might be enough)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- A large pot and either a water circulator, or a thermometer and your eyes on it!
For the Hasselback potatoes you’ll need:
- 1 large potato
- A spoonful of butter
- Olive oil
- A spoonful of breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
- Screw the cheese this time, although the original recipe calls for grated cheese
For the béarnaise sauce, you’ll need:
(the sauce yields at least 4 people)
- 4 sprigs of parsley
- 4 sprigs of estragon
- 6 black peppercorns
- 4 sprigs of chervil
- 100 ml vinegar (I’m using a cherry vinegar, because it tastes amazing)
- 200 ml of white wine (a little sweeter gives a better balance, I’ve realised)
- 150 g of unsalted butter, melted!
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 shallot
- Salt to taste
Ok, let’s start with the perfect steak sous-vide
- Heat water up to 60°C.* If you like it medium-rare towards the rare side, go down to around 54°C. For medium well, go to around 65 degrees Celsius. Anything above that is a sad story, don’t go there.
- If you feel that your meat isn’t tender enough, it’s because it hasn’t tenderized enough. Let it age in the refrigerator until the red meat starts turning a little darker and bluish. It’s the enzymes doing their job, and your beef will be tender and wonderful!
- Use a burner, the hotter the better. Sear it. This will give it a nice charred flavour that will just get better inside the water bath.
- Put the steak in a food and heat proof bag. Add some butter. If you have a vacuum sealer, use it. If you don’t, that’s fine. The buoyant effect will follow its laws of physics. Just put the meat into a heat resistent and food compliant bag. Don’t seal it! Submerge the bag into the water, and the air will be pressed out. Attach the top of the bag to the rim of the pot using a paper clip or whatever you come up with.**
- A steak as thick as mine will take about 90 minutes. A thin one will take about 45 minutes. But here comes the good part… You can’t really overdo it. The steak will never be warmer than the water temperature, so as long as you keep it say 60 degrees your steak will be medium-rare.***
- Just before serving, take the meat out. Set aside the juices from the bag. Heat a pan to freakin’ hot. Sear the meat. Quickly, it’ll only take say 30 seconds per side. Maybe even less. This to give it a nice texture. The inside is already done to your liking, remember? Salt and pepper and you’re done with the steak.
- Put the juices from last point into a pan. Add a crushed clove of garlic, some rosemary, red wine and a little sugar. If you need to thicken the sauce, add some cornstarch.
Perfect steak recipe notes
* I like my steak 60°C in the center. By most, that’s called medium. Some would call it less or more. I don’t care. I know my degrees. And so should you. If you buy a sous-vide circulator, all your troubles regarding cooking temperatures are gone. You set the water temperature you want, and the circulator takes care of the rest. You’ll cook your steak in a bag submerged under water. You can achieve a somewhat result manually, but it will take some effort. Prepare a large pot with water. Put in a thermometer. Heat the pot and find a level where the water is 60°C. If it gets too hot, add some cold water.
** Do this to prevent the bag from submerging fully into the water, and start taking in water. We don’t want any water inside the bag!
*** Test have been made letting steaks lay there for several hours, and eventually they do get a bad spongy texture. But in practice you’re not risking that, just take it out when it’s time to sear the meat.
The making of the béarnaise sauce…
- There are a lot of recipes for béarnaise. Parsley and estragon are always called for, but not always chervil. If you choose to make one without chervil, I will be sad.
- Chop the chervil, parsley and estragon. Keep the stems!
- Put the stems in a saucepan, in vinegar and white wine. Chopped shallots. And pepper corns. Bring to boil, and reduce by half. Then let it cool.
- Two yolks in a saucepan. Pour the flavoursome vinegar you’ve made, while whisking hard on medium-low heat. If you want to do it over a water bath because you’re scared to underestimate the heat, that’s ok. But I’m sure you’ll manage without it. Anyway… Whisk it until it’s a thick nice foam. Have you tried the Italian dessert zabaione? That’s the texture you’re looking for here. Then remove it from the heat.
- Melt butter and slowly pour it while whisking hard. Don’t stop! If you mess this up, you’re pretty much screwed.
- Now add the chopped herbs. And add salt to taste. Now refrigerate your sauce. Béarnaise is to be eaten cold.
Hasselback potato time!
- Heat the oven to 225°C.
- A big potato thinly sliced. Almost. When I say almost, I mean that you’re to slice it almost all the way through the potato but not all the way. If you have a big wooden spoon, it’ll make things much easier. Put the potato in the spoon, and cut as far down as you can. The spoon will prevent you from cutting all the way through the potato.
- Spread butter on the potato, all over. Don’t forger the inside of the cuts. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on it. Then drizzle some oil. And into the oven for 20 minutes. Then take it out, and add more butter on top of it (yes, butter is tasty) and let it bake for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Now it’s time to serve…
This is a huge, perfect steak, rustic and good. Sure, you can slice the steak up before serving. But I wouldn’t bother, just put it up there on the plate. Gravy. And the potato. Put the béarnaise on the side for looks, but I just pour it on there.