This classic recipe is one of my absolute favourites when I want to treat myself. If you ask me, this is the perfect way to cook a steak but everyone has their own preference when it comes to how they like it done. Choose the best steaks you can afford and try and make sure that they have been aged. It makes all the difference.
2tbsp sunflower oil
700g potatoes peeled and cut into thick chips, such as Maris Piper or Queens
4 x 300g sirloin steaks, each about 2.5cm thick
For the béarnaise sauce:
325g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 small shallot, finely chopped
ground pinch of ground white pepper
1 egg yolk
pinch of cayenne pepper
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh watercress sprigs, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6. In a roasting tin, add the potatoes and sunflower oil and mix well. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and pop in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes. Turn the chips halfway through the cooking time.
Heat a large griddle pan over a high heat and massage the steaks with a little oil, then season with pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes on either side for medium rare. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Season with salt and put under foil to rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the béarnaise sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave. Combine the wine, vinegar and half of the tarragon in a saucepan with the shallot and pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce until about one tablespoon of liquid remains. Strain into a liquidizer or mini blender, pushing down the tarragon leaves to extract the liquid.
Add two teaspoons of warm water to the liquidizer together with the egg yolk and turn on the machine. Pour the hot butter into a jug and start to pour the butter very slowly on to the egg yolk mixture. As the sauce emulsifies, increase the butter flow to a thin steady stream. As the Béarnaise sauce thickens, you will notice a change in the sound of the machine. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more warm water or lemon juice to taste. Add the remaining tarragon leaves, the parsley and cayenne pepper and blend briefly. Season with salt. Keep warm in a bowl or jug set in a pan of hot but not boiling water.
Put the rested steaks on warm plates and arrange some of the chips to the side. Garnish with the watercress sprigs and put a small dish on the warm béarnaise sauce on each one to serve.
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