I cannot remember the last time that I cooked a steak at home. It's one of those things that I think about doing all of the time, but once I make my way up to the front of the line at the butcher, I experience something similar to stage fright. Let's call it meat fright. Looking at all of the marbled dry-aged steaks makes me nervous. What if I drop the big bucks for a nice piece of meat and ruin it? My fear is not unfounded; there have been several steak massacres in my past.
But this week I decided to give steaks another go, thanks to this recipe for Steaks with Anchovy Butter from Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners. I had my butcher wrap up the biggest porterhouse in the case and took it home. I brought the steak to room temperature and applied a salt and pepper crust. Steaks can take a lot of salt, and they aren't happy until they are virtually encrusted with the stuff, so don't be shy.
To alleviate some of my meat fright, I consulted one of my more steak-savvy friends for advice. This is the advice that he gave me: "Two minutes on each side for one inch of thickness, render the fat side (if any) by holding with tongs for 1 minute, finish for three minutes in 400° F oven, let rest for 7 minutes."
I followed his advice and my monster of a steak turned out perfectly. Once it was on the cutting board, with plenty of anchovy butter melting on top, I realized that the steak I had purchased was almost comical in its proportions. Were we really going to be able to eat the whole thing? Rest assured, we did. The steak was awesome, and made even better by the buttery anchovy, garlic and parsley butter that basted it. The anchovies lent just the right kick of umami to set of the juicy minerality of the steak.
I paired the steak with two other recipes from New Classic Sunday Dinners, Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Mashed Potatoes, Finally Revealed, but more on those later in the week.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of New Classic Family Dinners to give away this week.
- 1 fat garlic clove, cut in half, green shoot removed
- 3 anchovy filets, soaked in water for 15 minutes (30 minutes if salt-packed), rinsed and patted dry
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- A few grinds of the pepper mill
- 2 pounds steak (individual steaks or larger steaks), at or just below room temperature
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
Combine the garlic, anchovy filets, salt, and olive oil in a mortar and pestle and mash to a smooth paste. Add the parsley and grind with the pestle until well blended with the garlic and anchovies. Work in the butter and add a few grinds of the pepper mill. Set aside. Taste and adjust the salt (add up to another 1/8 teaspoon).
Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Pat the steaks dry and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. With your fingertips, press the seasonings into the steaks.
When the pan is hot, add the canola oil. Heat just to below smoking and add the steaks, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan. Cook for 3 minutes on each side for rare 1-inch-thick steaks, 4 to 5 minutes for thicker steaks.
Remove the steaks from the pan and immediately dollop 4 to 6 heaped tablespoons of the butter over the top. Let the meat rest for a couple of minutes, then slice and serve at once.