Grilled steak with Scarlet Elf Cups and Herb Butter
Steak and mushrooms is a classic pairing. Any firm, well-flavoured mushrooms will work here, but we’re using pretty scarlet elf cups, which make their appearance just in time for Valentine’s Day, in this special dinner for two. Cooking steak can seem daunting, but our advice is to buy good quality, thick-cut steaks, to use a fiercely hot pan, and to allow the meat to rest before serving – and see below for our special tip on how to test for doneness.The rosemary butter adds a suitably luxurious touch, enriching the flavour of both steak and mushrooms.
- 2 steaks – ribeye, sirloin or rump, as preferred – each weighing approximately 225g
- 100g scarlet elf cups (about two handfuls)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing the steaks
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 40g butter, softened
- A little lemon juice (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 clove garlic
- A few bitter wild leaves or fresh rocket, to serve
- Remove the steaks from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook them. Brush them all over with olive oil and season on both sides with salt and a little pepper and set aside.
- Clean the scarlet elf cups using a small brush to remove any dirt or detritus. Wipe away any mud using dampened kitchen paper, and cut any large mushrooms into pieces.
- Pick a few needles from one of the rosemary sprigs and chop them finely to yield about a teaspoonful. Put all but 1 tablespoon of softened butter into small bowl. Add the chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Mix well and form into a small patty. Put the patty onto a small piece of baking parchment and loosely wrap it, and put it into the freezer to chill.
- When it’s time to cook the steaks, set a heavy pan (a cast iron griddle or frying pan would work well) over a high heat. Tear a square of foil, large enough to wrap both steaks, and set it on a wooden board near the stove.
- When the pan is absolutely screaming hot, put the steaks in and press them down with a spatula. If you have an extractor hood, set it going on its highest setting now. Cook the steaks for one minute without moving them or peeping underneath. After the minute is up, turn the steaks and cook for a minute on the other side.
- If your steaks are not very thick and if you like rare meat, this may well be enough cooking. Test using the method detailed below. If your steaks need more cooking, turn them and cook for a minute, and test again, and repeat this process until you reach your preferred doneness.
- As soon as the steaks are cooked to your liking, lift them from the pan and lay them on the foil. Quickly sprinkle over a little lemon juice and wrap the steaks in the foil and cover with a folded tea towel to keep them warm. Leave them to stand like this while you cook the mushrooms.
- If you used a frying pan (rather than a griddle pan) to cook your steaks, you can use it to cook the mushrooms. Otherwise, set a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and reserved butter. Using the side of the blade of a knife, flatten the garlic clove and put the whole thing, skin and all, along with the rosemary sprigs into the foaming butter-and-oil. Cook for a minute or so, until both are fragrant and the garlic is turning golden, then remove them from the pan and add the mushrooms. Fry them until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring them now and then, but not too frequently so that they take on a little colour. Season with salt, pepper, and a few drops of lemon juice.
- When the mushrooms are cooked, put the steaks onto two warmed plates, pouring over any juices that have accumulated in the foil. Top with the mushrooms, then take the chilled butter out of the freezer, cut the patty in two, and put a piece on top of each hot steak. Garnish with the wild leaves or rocket, and serve immediately.
A nifty technique for testing the doneness of your steak is the finger-press test. It works by comparing how the steak feels when pressed with the way the flesh of your hand feels as you touch different fingers together. For rare steak, touch the tip of the forefinger of one hand to the tip of the thumb. Press the fleshy part at the base of your thumb with your other forefinger: this is how soft and bouncy your steak should feel. For a medium rare steak, press your middle finger to your thumb. For well done, press your ring finger to your thumb.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK