A menu fixe steak-frites, usually preceded by salade de chèvre chaud and followed by mousse au chocolat, is probably one of many people’s first experiences of eating out in France. The steak, in most instances, is often bavette, or onglet (more of that another day), a cut which until quite recently was not widely available in the UK, certainly not in supermarkets. But, ah, that is changing; I recently found it on sale in Waitrose and I now know why it is always on those lunchtime menus: it’s so cheap!
Sometimes known as flank, sometimes skirt, the definitions of which bit of cow this is depend on who is writing. All I know is that, after several delicious dinners, I’ll never buy a fillet again. If you can’t find it in your local supermarket, try a local butcher’s (this, again along with onglet, is sometimes referred to as the ‘butchers’ cut’, because it was the bit of the animal that they kept back for themselves) or order it online. For me, it is one of the greatest cheap and delicious discoveries of the year. About 150-200g per person will generally cost you less than a fiver.
To cook, put it whole into hot butter in a frying pan for as long as required, depending on how you like your steak, bearing in mind that this is a thick and fibrous cut, so it may take slightly longer to cook than a somewhat ‘finer’ (aka more expensive) cut. Rest, then slice it across the grain to serve. You can serve it with chips, gratin dauphinoise and/or creamed spinach, and pretend you’re French or, for my money, try it with a summery chimmichurri sauce and a salad.
Chimichurri sauce (adapted from here and here)
Enough for 4-6
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic cloves, 2
dried oregano, 1 tsp
flaky sea salt, 1 tsp
red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp
olive oil, 6 tbsp
flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, 25g
Peel and finely chop the garlic. Deseed and finely chop the chilli and chop the parsley leaves. Mix everything together in a lidded jar or bottle and shake well. This will keep for up to a week if stored in the fridge.