Recipe:Steak and triple chips

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  • Potatoes
  • Steak


Stick the kettle on and get a sandwich because this is slow food at its best.

  1. Get your steak vacuum packed - alternative buy one that's pre-packed that way. Sainsburies sell fairly decent rump steak packaged really well and works fine for this.
  2. Prepare a water bath in a pan that's at about 50 degrees (that's centigrade, by yankie chums, or 348 K, if you will) or so. Hot enough so you can feel some heat, but cool enough to keep your fingers in comfortably.
  3. Place the packaged steak into the water bath ("sous vide"). You then leave it for an amount of time that would make you think that I have brain damage, preferably along the lines of 20+ hours, but turn up the heat a little if you want it quicker. I'd suggest two hours minimum.
  4. Meanwhile, peel your potato (keep the skin in small strands) and chop into big-ass chunky chips - trim them down to be rectangular. Seriously big, you want no more than 6 out of a fairly hefty potato. The type of potato is usually important, I've been trying this with baking potatoes (with smooth skins) and it hasn't worked that well despite their size. Try to pick out some fairly hefty Maris Pipers for instance.
  5. Boil the potato chips gently in salted water. You want them to be cooked a little and slightly starting to break up on the sides.
  6. Drain the chips and allow to cool. Put them in the fridge for later.
  7. Keep an eye on the steak, warm it up a little if needed, catch up on Doctor Who or something.
  8. Get your chips out of the fridge and put them in some hot oil (a chip pan is useful, but with the size and number of chips, some tongs and a normal pan is fine). This should only be at about 60-70% of the heat your hob can get up to. This stage may take about 10-12 minutes but you want them only lightly golden and only just crisping on the edge. The effect changes depending on the type of potato and how the startch and sugars have settled on the surface. Put your chips to one side.
  9. Just before you're about to do the next stage in chip cooking, recover your steak. Feeling it and looking at it will show that the effort is worth it, let it rest a little while.
  10. Crank the chip pan temperature up to almost full. Like with all chip pans, this can be dangerous so familiarise yourself with how to save your ass in the event of a fire. Similarly, heat a frying pan and add in a little oil and, if you like, butter.
  11. Add the chips to the chip pan and the fry the steak. 2 minutes a side for rare/medium-rare - any longer and you may as well not bother with the water bath trick.
  12. Take out your chips when they look crunchy to you, a deep and rich golden brown. Again, this depends on the type of potato.
  13. With your off-cuts of potato from above, slice them very thinly, literally only slivers of potato, mix them with some potato skins and fry in the hot heat until crispy. Take them out and drain.
  14. Serve with an appropriate sauce[1] for the steak, dip[2] for the chips and a beer. And congratulate yourself on two weeks of your life expectancy well spent.

Some additional notes[edit]

Sous vide, or "under vacuum" cooking does have a method behind the madness. Essentially, water bath cooking is at a relatively low temperature and lasts for a long time. Under normal conditions when this happens, otherwise dormant bacteria will begin to multiply fruitfully, hence meat is cooked at a high temperature that outright kills the bad stuff before it spreads enough to make a serious and potentially dangerous infection. By placing the meat under vacuum (although you can just about get away with sufficient wrapping or some home made device of wonder) you remove the air, so bacteria cannot respire aerobically, that is, with oxygen. This is the most favourable means for any organism to operate, and anaerobic (without oxygen, usually deriving energy from reductive reactions) processes tend to be rare and far less efficient for generating energy. So, little chance for the little buggers to multiply if you choke off their air supply! This is also known as pasteurization, so meet fresh from a sous vide bag is best described as "pasteurized" rather than "cooked". That said, there are anaerobic process and they can be just as dangerous - for instance, that pain you feel in your side when running (called a "stitch" where I come from, but I'm not sure about international terminology) is caused by a build up of lactic acid, the result of your body burning glucose in the absence of sufficient oxygen. In the case of meat, the chance of botulism spores building up are increased in sous vide cooking - so you want to avoid this sort of methodology if your immune system is compromised or very weak.

For longer cooking, the water baths must be temperature controlled properly otherwise there is no point, the pasteurization won't work; wp:Temperature (meat) has a table of "doneness" temperatures to work from, the water bath method ensures that the entire cut of meat reaches this temperature rather than having a massive temperature gradient as happens with normal frying or grilling. With this all in mind, it is well worth the effort.


  1. My favourite being mushroom. Take some decent mushrooms, usually they're dried so you'll need to soak them first. Fry with some finely chopped onion, garlic and simmer with a dash of white wine and some cream to the consistency you want. Season to taste and serve inside a baked flat mushroom for some added woo.
  2. Some sour cream and thai sweet chilli dip, of course.