Nights in: Classic Steak & Chips
Whether you are staying in one of our self-catering homes by the beach in Woolacombe or at home, a little indulgence goes a long way. Here, Eddie Grecu (Head Chef at our sister property the Woolacombe Bay Hotel) shares some kitchen secrets for a classic favourite: Steak & Chips.
For the ultimate dining experience, Eddie recommends five core elements: great steak, crispy chips, fresh asparagus, vine tomatoes, and butter. Follow the steps below to create your own chargrill steak, triple cooked chips, mushroom and garlic stuffed vine tomatoes, grilled asparagus & coffee butter.
Grass fed beef (steak)
Maris Piper potatoes
British asparagus (for best flavour and texture)
Mushrooms (fresh or confit – your favourite type!)
Farmhouse unsalted butter
Let's get started...
We won't advise you on your cut - it's safe to say that they all have their pros and cons, and we all have our favourites! The most important thing is to select the best grass fed beef that you can. By buying British beef that has been farmed to a really high standard, free from growing hormones, you can guarantee succulence and flavour. A more natural way of looking after the cattle is imperative for the tastiest meat.
When it comes to cooking, our favourite twist on this tradition is to marinate with mustard, Marmite, miso and black pepper, then bring the steak to room temperature. Cook on a very hot chargrill to caramelise and create the tastiest crust, keeping it juicy and bursting with umami (savoriness). Once cooked, rest it in a warm place, before serving.
The chips are best started while your steak is marinading, before it reaches room temperature. Choose a great British potato such as Maris Piper, cut into chips or wedges, boil in salty water on medium high heat or steam until it starts to soften the outside, that’s when the first layer of utter crispiness is being created, then take out and cool down as fast as possible (we use the freezer), for up to ten minutes.
Next, cook in a low temperature deep fat fryer (160° C) for five minutes, then freeze or cool again for ten minutes. This is best done while your steak is cooking.
Finally, turn the fryer up to 180 ° C and when the steak is resting, cook the chips to crisp up for around three minutes. You will be rewarded with the crispiest, most delicious iteration of a not so humble chip! That's it: just add a little salt.
3. Vine tomatoes
Some lovely vine tomatoes are the perfect accompaniment! Large or small tomoatoes are great, as there are a couple of options:
Either take some sweet Piccolo vine tomatoes and gently roast them until just burst - place the tomatoes in a shallow oven-proof dish, splash them with a good glug of olive oil and sprinkle with oregano and pop into the oven to roast for about 10 minutes or until the skins just begin to burst - best done while your chips are doing their second round of cooling.
Or, take some large vine tomatoes, remove the skin, cut in half, scoop the seeds and pulp and reserve. Sauteé some confit king oyster mushrooms with little shallot, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, a scatter of fresh parsley, and a splash of Madeira wine. Add the reserved tomato pulp and reduce down until it thickens enough to stuff the vine tomato halves, before baking them on muffin trays until soft and well perfumed by the filling. If you plump for these filled tomatoes, they can be prepped before you get started on the chips, and placed in the oven while your chips are on their second round of cooling.
We're blessed in Woolacombe - our neighbouring village of Braunton is home to a fantastic asparagus farm. From the end of April through to June this sweet, nutty, snappy, local delight is available in abundance. This is our favourite time to have asparagus, but it is available all year round in the grocery store. Choose your stalks carefully looking for:
Stalks that are firm to the touch, able to stand up straight, with a smooth texture.
Closed, compact tips, free from spreading or softness with a dark green or purple highlighted hue.
Rich green color, softly fading to white at the bottom of the stalk.
A uniform length/thickness will also help preparation and presentation, but is by no means essential. Whilst being utterly delicious even raw, sliced or peeled, in a simple salad, the most amazing taste comes alive when cooked very briefly and dressed with some delicious butter. We recommend cooking the stalks only, standing in boiling salted water for 20 seconds, we refresh it with a little cold water, dry it out, grill it for 20-30 seconds, then bathe it in some churned salted butter, before serving alongside the steak.
5. Coffee Butter (optional)
For a smooth, comforting dish, dress your steak in whichever way you have come to love - pepper sauce, garlic butter, or a lovely bearnaise. Or, for a wild card option we love coffee butter, yes, coffee! It is very simple to make and once made, it'll keep in a Kilner jar in the fridge, for months, ready for any of your red meat succulent culinary adventures (duck, veal, hare, etc.).
To make coffee butter, place 500g of your favourite medium roast coffee beans in a bag, add 4 blocks of butter (1kg), place the bag carefully in a pan of water that is just under simmering temperature (you are trying your best to stay around 90°C) and forget about it for about 4 hours. Worry not that your steak will taste bitter, that part of the beans only comes alive in water, not in fat (butter), all you get is some perfumed sweetness with very mild savoury notes that sublimely compliments rare meats. Once time is up, strain, chill and use on top of your steak, as it rests.
This is best served with a glass of full bodied red wine, with a generous side of great company - enjoy!
- Eddie Grecu, Head Chef
The Best Steaks in Woolacombe
If you're staying at our self-catering accommodation in Woolacombe - the Beach Retreats - and wondering "where can I find the best steaks in Woolacombe?" Look no further than the Bay Brasserie. Located within our sister property - The Woolacombe Bay Hotel - it's just a short stroll from your flat or apartment. Steaks are a regular fixture on the menu, as are home-cooked chips.