Pan Grilling Beef Steaks
Pan grilling, or 'dry frying' as it is sometimes called, is familiar to all users of solid fuel cookers and can equally well be used on electric or gas cookers. To pan grill you need a very thick frying pan made of iron or cast aluminium. Better still is a special ridged iron pan which will give your steaks a really professional 'quadrilled' surface.
Grill according to the type of steak and its thickness, following the chart given on the previous page but decrease the cooking time slightly — by about 1 minute on each side. It is essential that the pan, like any other grill, is very hot before grilling starts.
Steaks are luxury foods and deserve to be beautifully presented. It makes economic sense, too, to serve them with decorative edible garnishes and accompaniments because this means you can get away with slightly less meat per person.
Straw, chip or duchesse potatoes look good and taste delicious. Fried onion rings, sprigs of fresh watercress dipped in vinaigrette, a puree of chestnuts, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms are other optional extras.
Choose small firm tomatoes for grilling whole. Wash them and, with a sharp knife, cut a little cross just through the skin on the side opposite the stem. This allows the skin to shrink back during grilling without splitting. Grilling takes about 5 minutes but be careful not to let the tomatoes get too soft unless you like them like that. Larger tomatoes can be cut horizontally in half and grilled either side up, but do cook only one side - if you grill both sides the tomato tends to fall apart. Season the cut surface before serving.
Choose firm cap mushrooms. Minaret mushrooms look particularly pretty. Brush both sides generously with oil and grill with the steak, turning the mushrooms once. As mushrooms tend to dry out, baste them once or twice during grilling, which should not take more than 5 minutes in all.
Tournedos or medaillons are ideally suited for serving on artichoke bottoms or canapes. Crisply fried canapes, placed beneath tournedos, catch and absorb precious juices that run from the meat and make an attractive contrast in texture.
And don't forget that both savoury butters and mustard are, virtually speaking, a 'must' for steaks.
Make savoury butters and use either in chilled pats to top steaks just before serving or spread generously over the nearly cooked grill. As the butter melts, spoon it over the meat as a baste. When serving, pour any remains from the grill pan base over the steak as a sauce. This second method is not suitable when using a ridged grill pan.
Here are a few more savoury butters particularly suited to serving with steak. For four steaks'allow 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, salt and black pepper to taste plus any of the following:
- For mustard butter: 15 ml (1 tablespoon) French mustard and 15 ml (1 tablespoon) freshly chopped parsley. Suitable for steaks, chops, liver or fish.
- For green herb butter: 30 ml (2 tablespoons) finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon and Chervil, as available, and 10 ml (2 teaspoons) lemon juice. Suitable for steaks, fish and chops.
- For 'snail' butter: 15 ml (1 tablespoon) finely chopped or grated shallots or spring onions, 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely crushed, and 15 ml (1 tablespoon) freshly chopped parsley. Suitable for grilled meats or fish. This is the butter which is served in France with snails, which gives it its name. It does not, of course, contain snails.