After a quick browse on Gumtree early Friday morning to just see what was available and for what price, we found a van with all the required criteria at a deceptively low buck. A phone call and trip to the bank to withdraw all available funds later, and we were on a train out of Melbourne by 10.30am. We saw the van, we drove the van, we bought the van. Spontaneity at its most spontaneous and an early present to ourselves. The first car I’ve owned, albeit jointly. The ride home was one of much childish giggling and hairy moments on the road. A great start to the day.
- Triple cooked chips, Heston Blumenthal style
- Creamy mushroom sauce, for dipping the previous two components
|Queen Vic Market|
Why does salt enable meat to retain more moisture?
The whole point of reverse sear is to cook the steak slowly, the whole way through, so that the whole steak is evenly cooked, rather than having an overcooked outer layer, a medium inner layer and a rare middle, which is often the case when entirely pan-fried.
For a rare steak you’re looking for the centre of the meat to be around 55°C, I used a temperature probe for accuracy, but the old-fashioned prod test will suffice. How you like your steak will govern at what temperature you take it out the oven, but I’m guessing you wouldn’t go to these lengths if you wanted it medium-well. The first batch that I overcooked slightly read around 59°C, these were significantly tougher than the second batch which came out the oven at 56°C. I’ve listed rough temp charts below;
Medium rare - 55-58°C
Medium - 59-62°C
After removing the steak from the oven when the middle is at the desired temperature it is then crucial to rest the meat for 10-15 minutes; this allows the muscle fibres to relax and keeps the juices in the steak. At this point the steak will be an anaemic looking off-grey colour, hardly very appetising. We therefore need to get some Maillard browning going on. Heat a pan super hot, with just a dash of oil and sear hard on each side for 30 seconds, any longer and the meat will start to cook through, ruining the point of the reverse sear method.
Triple cooked chips à la Heston:
The rest was simple, fry the mushrooms with a big knob of butter, some mashed confit garlic and finely chopped thyme, though don’t cut the ‘shrooms too thinly, they’ll only go limp - you still want some texture there. When cooked, add some thick double cream and your mushroom stock, about 50:50 ratio, and reduce to desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper and mix through chopped parsley to finish. Oh, and add more butter if you so wish – butter is good, y’see.
* I got a bit too caught up in cooking to take photos of the chips and mushroom sauce upon completion, they didn't hang round long. Below are a couple of photos of the laborious process of carefully lining parboiled chips up ready to be dried in the freezer. A fun bit of prep.
As we were 15 and had only a 4 hob cooker, two of which were taken up by vats of oil for the chips and one for the mushroom sauce, we could only sear two steaks at a time, so served sliced steak on boards with a dollop of mustard, a bowl of chips and some creamy mushroom dipping sauce. No cutlery allowed. Everyone just dived right in and got messy fingers, a less formal yet much more enjoyable way of eating, I think. This went on five or six times until the steak was gone and bellies were close to bursting. After I thought I could eat no more, Giorgia, from Italy, produced a stonking Tiramisu she’d made earlier that day. I found space. It was superb.
All in all, a very enjoyable day / evening. I'm the proud co-owner of a wagon. The steak was the best I've cooked and the company was second to none. Although I'm working long hours at two kitchen jobs, I still miss being able to to do my own thing in the kitchen. The lack of ovens at hostels is frustrating.