For me the king of steak sauces is a perfectly executed Bearnaise. Whisky Peppercorn comes seriously close as does a Mushroom and Blue Cheese combo, but, there’s no beating a Tarragon laced buttery Bearnaise with a perfectly cooked steak.
I cook fillet or Rib eye regularly and you can easily swap out the Bavette in this recipe for your favourite cut. However, I urge you to try this under rated and ridiculously good value cut. It smacks you with flavour, is tender as fillet but just needs a little extra TLC when cooking to get it right.
2 Bavette steaks (Waitrose sell these, or ask your butcher)
6 baby leeks, trimmed
150g Cavolo Nero
10 Vine tomatoes (kept on the vine)
1 bunch of tarragon
Half a shallot
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
8 black peppercorns
Olive oil, for frying
Butter, for basting
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
Salt, black pepper and white pepper
Season the tomatoes with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Place in the oven at 150°c for an hour while you prepare everything else.
To make the Bearnaise sauce, pick the tarragon leaves from the stalks and finely chop the leaves. Put the finely diced shallot, tarragon stalks, peppercorns and vinegar into a small pan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and reduce the vinegar to half it’s original volume then strain into a clean bowl. Place the 2 egg yolks into a medium glass bowl that will sit comfortably over a small saucepan. Add the strained vinegar to the eggs and set aside until needed.
Blanch the leeks in boiling water for 2 minutes then refresh in iced water. Set aside.
Remove the central stalks from the cavolo nero by slicing the leaves away along the stalk line. Bunch the leaves together and slice thickly. Blanch for 4 minutes and refresh in iced water. Set aside.
To finish the Bearnaise sauce, add 2 inches of water to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the butter into a small saucepan and heat until melted then immediately turn off the heat and pour into a jug. Allow this to sit for a few minutes to separate the solids and allow them to sink to the bottom. Place the bowl with the egg yolks and vinegar over the saucepan of simmering water ensuring the water isn’t touching the base of the glass bowl. Whisk the eggs and vinegar together until light and fluffy, then trickle in the melted butter in a continuous stream whisking all of the time until you have a thick bearnaise sauce. Turn off the heat under the water, add the chopped tarragon to the sauce and season well with salt and black pepper. Leave the sauce over the water and cover to keep warm while you cook the steak.
Season your steaks generously with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Heat a large flat frying pan to a searingly high heat and add the steaks, fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, then 2-3 minutes on the other side until nicely charred then add a knob of butter and the garlic clove to the pan. Use a spoon to baste the steaks for a further 2-3 minutes then remove from the pan and allow to rest for 8 minutes. This will cook the Bavette Steaks a perfect medium rare which they need to be to be enjoyed at their best.
To bring the dish together, reheat the cavolo nero in a small pan and season with olive oil, salt and some white pepper. Heat a griddle pan to smoking point and drizzle the leeks with olive oil. Char the leeks for a minute or 2 on each side. Check the sauce, if it has thickened slightly add a drop of hot water and whisk to loosen.
Place a bed of cavolo nero onto a serving plate, set the rested steak alongside, then the tomatoes. Top with the charred leeks and serve the bearnaise alongside.