THE JOY OF STEAK

Oh, how I love steak. A good friend of the store Rob Firing recently released a cookbook all about steak, from how to source the best beef, to how to cook a perfect striploin. He asked me to write the forward, which of course I was happy to do, and while writing it I was reminded on how much I loved steak. It’s my death row meal, my desert island need, my Saturday night go-to. My two-year-old son has eaten more ribeye at his age than all of his cousins combined. And now, with the sun finally making an appearance outside, the time for al fresco dining is almost upon us. Nothing beats a steak dinner on the patio, with a bottle of good red wine, crusty bread, and a simple vinegary salad on the side.

I generally don’t sauce my steaks too often (the flavour of the beef is good enough), but I do find a good compound butter can complement almost any cut. Compound butters are basically just softened butter that is mixed with different herbs, spices, and other flavours, then kept chilled until it’s time to slice a piece off and top a hot steak. The butter will slowly melt over the cut, mixing with the steak juices on your plate, creating the perfect dipping sauce for your bread.

One of the most common compound butters is just made of shallots, thyme, and red wine. For my butter, I like to up the herb content and use tarragon, an herb that I find goes very well with beef (béarnaise anyone?).

Compound Butter for Steak
Yield: Enough butter for at least 4 steaks

Ingredients

6 tbsp                   unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tbsp                   chives, chopped
1 tbsp                   tarragon, picked and chopped
1 tbsp                   parsley, cleaned and chopped
1 tsp                      salt
½ tsp                     black pepper

Method

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and spoon the butter out in a cylindrical shape in the center of the plastic. Wrap the butter and roll it into a tube shape, twisting the ends. Refrigerate until needed. When your steak is finished, slice a good-sized round of the butter and lie it on top before serving, allowing the cold butter to melt onto the steak.

Pork Chops with Blood Orange Sauce

When I was growing up, we ate a lot of pork chops. They were a weekly feature at the Sanagan household, and there was really only one way of cooking them. My parents used to get center-cut pork chops and spread them out in a casserole. Then, open and pour a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup on the chops, spreading that love out all over, before baking in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until they were coooooooooooked. They were actually pretty good, now that I think back. However, I’ve learned a thing or two over the last twenty years and now cook my pork chops a little differently.

Pork Chops with Blood Orange Sauce
serves 4

Ingredients:

4 pieces               center cut pork chops
to taste                salt and pepper
2 tbsp                   olive oil
3 stems                fresh thyme
1                            blood orange, segmented*
3 tbsp                   sherry vinegar
6 tbsp                   orange juice
2 tbsp                   cold butter

* Segmenting an orange is one of the first things they teach you in culinary school to practice your knife skills. Basically, you peel an orange using a knife – slice the top and bottom off to expose the meat, then using a “turning” motion strip away the peel, exposing only the meat of the fruit. Once the fruit is fully naked, carefully cut in between each citrus membrane to loosen the segments and they should pop out. If you don’t want to do all this, just peel the orange, break up the segments, and cut each in half. It’s just a little extra fiber anyways, which is only a good thing, right?

Method:

Place a large pan on a medium-high heat.

Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil onto the chops. Place the chops in the pan and sear until golden brown on one side. Add the thyme to cook at the same time as the chops.

Flip the chops and repeat, searing until golden brown. Remove the chops and set on a platter to rest. Leave the thyme in the pan.

Turn the heat down to a medium heat under the same pan. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and reduce by half before adding the orange juice. Reduce the liquid by another half before adding the cold butter and the orange segments. Swirl the butter to emulsify with the juice, then pour the whole mixture over the platter of chops and serve.

It may not be mushroom soup, but I swear this is a tasty way to cook those chops!