This is the perfect dish for a special occasion — the most famous of steaks with an equally revered sauce. A match made in heaven.
Many kitchens up and down the land have witnessed the debate rage about which is the superior steak sauce. Is it the heat of a classic peppercorn sauce, the pure indulgence of a bordelaise, the zing and bounce of a chimichurri (or indeed salsa verde) or is it the majesty of a silky béarnaise?
Of course, there is no definitive answer, but it is clear to me that béarnaise is totally delicious and is not only a great accomplice for the beef but also the chips, and that to me is important. For there is one thing that I can give a definitive answer to, and that is the question of the best thing to eat with steaks. The answer: chips.
Chateaubriand, triple cooked chips & béarnaise sauce
5 large chipping potatoes
vegetable oil or beef dripping
- For the béarnaise
100ml white wine vinegar
½ a shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch of fresh tarragon
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 organic egg yolks
200g salted butter
½ an unwaxed lemon
- To make a béarnaise sauce, you must first make a white wine vinegar reduction. Put the vinegar, peppercorns, shallot, bay leaf, thyme and 4 sprigs of tarragon into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Allow the vinegar to simmer away and reduce by about two-thirds. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Then move your attention to the chips:
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into chips. I personally don’t like them too chunky, but this is a decision for you to make.
- Put the chips in a large pan and place the pan in your sink. Wash the chips in water from the hot tap, as hot as possible. Stir them around the pan as the water pours, you will notice all the starch coming out of them. Wash like this for a couple of minutes.
- Then switch the water to cold and cover the chips. Season with sea salt and place over a high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce slightly to a good simmer. Cook for 10-14 minutes -much will depend on the thickness of your chip. One of the tricks to a great chip is to be brave with the first blanching. Take them a little further than seems sensible.
- With care and a gentle touch, drain the chips into a colander and then transfer them to a tray to cool. It is best if they are in a single layer so they don’t get too smashed up. Leave them somewhere to cool completely.
- Heat your deep fryer, or a large pan with vegetable oil or beef dripping, to 130°C. In batches, so as not to overfill the fryer, fry off the chips for 6 minutes. Drain any excess oil and then lay on a tray to cool.
- For the third phase of this triple cook, turn the fryer up to 185°C and, again in batches, fry off the chips for 3-4 minutes. Drain off any excess oil and tip into a bowl lined with kitchen towel. Season well with sea salt.
- For the chateaubriand:
- Remove the chateaubriand from the fridge and its packaging and allow it to come up to room temperature.
- Season the chateaubriand well with sea salt and black pepper.
- Preheat your oven to 165°C.
- Place a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over a high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil begins to smoke, carefully lay the chateaubriand in the pan.
- Allow the meat to brown and caramelise on all sides, moving it and rotating it regularly.
- Once nicely caramelised, turn the heat down and add a large knob of butter to the pan. Once the butter starts to foam, use a spoon to baste the steak. Rotate and baste again.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and set a timer for 4 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and baste the chateaubriand again, then flip it over and baste some more.
- Return the pan to the oven and set the timer for 4 minutes, once more.
- Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chateaubriand to a plate or tray. Tip the hot butter from the pan over the meat and leave to rest, somewhere warm, for 15 minutes.
- To make the bearnaise:
- Set a pan, half filled with water over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- In another pan melt the butter. It is important that the butter is completely melted but not, and this is important, too hot. If the temperature of the butter isn’t right, then the bearnaise will likely split.
- Tip the egg yolks into a heat-proof bowl that fits over the pan of water, along with a pinch of salt, 1 ½ tablespoons of the white wine vinegar reduction, and a tablespoon of water.
- Whisk all of this together, vigorously. Then set the bowl over the simmering water to create a bain marie. Do not stop whisking from now until the end of this process — you may want to enlist some help!
- When whisking be sure to venture into every corner of the bowl to ensure that nowhere is the yolk mixture allowed to catch on the bowl — if it does it will essentially scramble and result in a lumpy bearnaise.
- As the yolks cook and you incorporate more and more air into them, you will notice it stiffen and grow significantly. Once the yolks have reached the soft peaks stage, then you are ready to whisk in your butter.
- Pour in the butter in a slow steady stream whilst whisking continuously. The golden clarified butter should all be incorporated first and then a little of the milk solids which will have sunk to the bottom of the pan go in at the end. These will loosen the bearnaise a little so only add as much as you need for the desired consistency.
- Strip the leaves off 4 sprigs of tarragon and finely chop them with a very sharp knife. Fold these through the bearnaise and squeeze in a touch of lemon juice.
- Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Whip up a simple salad of radicchio, frisée, watercress and crushed pink peppercorns and enjoy the feast.