I've been cooking on my tiny little barbecue in my tiny little back yard while I wait to move house. All my belongings are in storage. I have one frying pan, a handful of cooking tools and the smallest fridge you have ever seen, with a bloody stupid shelf at the bottom, where all the salad stuff has to be stored underneath meaning I have to move everything, everyday to get at a friggin' leaf of lettuce. I realise how spoilt I've been in the past in my beautiful kitchen BUT it hasn't stopped me! My local farm shop butchery has been providing me with the best ever flank steak and at about £7 a slab it's an economical steak meal for the three of us here in lockdown. So I've been making fajita's because my friend Nic Miller (follow her on Twitter @nicmillerstale or Insta @millerstale) shared her recipe for wheat tortillas and I wanted to make them. Mine came out square, I'm blaming the lack of a rolling pin. You'll find the recipe and instruction for my fajita seasoned flank steak here. Flank steak is often seen on a menu described as a bavette steak. This is not the cut to use if you don't 'do' rare. The flank has long muscle fibres and can be tough if overcooked, it's also very lean and best sliced thinly across the grain for optimum tenderness. Cook it on a very high heat for 2 or 3 minutes a side and then cover with foil and rest for 10 mins. I generally put mine in the oven after it has been turned off, so no heat, just warm surroundings. Slice and serve rolled in the tortilla with fried onions, peppers, tomato salsa, guacomole, grated cheese, sour cream and slobber your way through.
- Two lovely pieces of flank
- Seasoned and herbed up
- Freeze in bags for later
- Cook over a very high heat and only for a couple of minutes a side
- Slice across the grain once it has rested
- Add your own salsa, avocado and cheese
- they call me square
It's going to be hot this weekend so prepare for some al fresco fire cooking. Make yourselves a jar of dry rub ready for your beef. Spice blends, or dry rubs are rubbed into meat before cooking. Some say that salt should not be included in a rub as meat should be dry brined by rubbing in salt a day in advance, in order for the salt to penetrate the meat. The spices in a rub do not tend to penetrate the meat but will help form the delicious spicy crust (or bark). However as we are all so short of time in our busy lives, I make an all in one rub, mixing the salt into the rub and leaving it on the meat overnight in the fridge. Sugar is a matter of taste and needed to help caramelise the crust. I use just a little on beef. Experiment with your own spice blends and store in an airtight jar. Use on a whole joint of rib eye or sirloin for a real treat.
- Cooked on a high heat over the fire creates a good bark but still pink in the middle
- I had a joint of very lean sirloin which I rubbed and left for 24hrs
- Making the rub in a mini blender is easy
We went "In Deep" at the Grapesense wine class this week, we went to South America. We tried Atlantico Sur, Marselan from the Garzon Vineyard in Uruguay. Then we started talking about Uruguay and how it's remembered for Fray Bentos meat pies. Fray Bentos is a large Uruguayan town where the Liebig Company produced tinned meats and beef oxo for export to the UK. The Fray Bentos brand was launched in 1899, initially for corned beef, then later pies. By 1961, when Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney was launched, pie production had shifted to Hackney. From the dozen or so of us at the wine class, no one admitted to having ever eaten one of the pies! I remember my Grandma always had one in her kitchen cupboard but I have never tried one, so for the sake of my Grapesense friends - here is the photo story of the Steak and Ale pie that I bought and ate.
I chose the Steak and Ale pie as it had the highest meat content (25%) and by the way the pastry is 24% so not sure what the rest is?! The smell of the pie still lingers in my kitchen an hour or so later, that kind of school-dinner, cheap chip-shop pie smell, like kidneys cooking, although the pie doesn't have any kidneys in it. The pastry looked revolting when I took the lid off the tin but had an impressive puffiness to it when out of the oven, which soon deflated leaving a soggy under layer. The gravy was very salty with scruffy small pieces of beef that were all on one side of the tin.
Interesting Fray Bentos Facts!
Sales of the pies plummeted during the Falklands War. Uruguay being the neighbour of Argentina.
Sean Bean (the actor) always has a Fray Bentos pie on hand when filming abroad, he loves them.
The empty tin makes a good dog bowl.
- Impressive looking puff pastry out of the oven
- Soggy bottom of the pastry lid
- Small pieces of beef
- Surprising choice of pies at Morrisons
- The deep fill steak and ale pie
- Slimy pastry when opened