When you have a good quality cut of beef, such as sirloin steak (called faux-filet or entrecôte in French), you don't want to overpower the flavor of the meat. That goal is accomplished in this recipe by keeping the prep work simple. I season the steaks with pepper, garlic and thyme. C'est tout! ("That's it"). The steaks are seared and grilled to create a crust, and then they're transferred to the oven to bring them to a perfect medium-rare. Once out of the oven, finish the meat with a sprinkling of sea salt. I wait to add the salt till after the beef is cooked so it doesn't draw moisture out of the meat.
I live in a house full of vegetarians, so I haven't had a tender, juicy steak in a while. It was quite a treat to be able to go to the store and get some premium cuts of beef (entrecôte) to make this dish. Good quality meat should be red and shiny, and the texture should be firm and elastic, with a very subtle scent. I found a couple of nice steaks and had fun cooking them up with my little munchkin, who is the only other meat eater in our house. She approved, and I imagine that if you make this dish in your home, your family will as well.
Servings: 4 servings
2 1-¼" thick steaks (about 1 pound each)
4 sprigs creeping red thyme (or regular thyme)
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
2 tablespoons herbed butter
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Pat dry the steaks using paper towels. Cut each steak in half. On a large platter, rub the beef with cayenne powder and black pepper. Add the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of finely chopped thyme. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of canola oil, chill and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. But I prefer marinating overnight for optimum flavor.
Remove the beef from the refrigerator so it returns to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pat the meat dry one more time.
With a brush, grease a cast iron skillet grill (a regular frying pan will work, but you won't get the nice grill marks) and heat until it's really hot, almost to the smoking point. Using tongs, place the sprigs of thyme and the beef in the pan (still on high heat) and cook for 2-3 minutes. It's important that you do not pierce the meat so it stays moist and tender. You want to create nice grilling marks. Flip the meat on the other side. Grill for another 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the beef for about 6-7 minutes for medium-rare), or a bit less or more, depending on how pink you like the meat.
Remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Let the meat sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Transfer the beef to a platter.
Garnish with a dollop of butter and decorate with sprigs of parsley. Serve immediately. Make sure the steaks are sliced against the grain, so the meat remains tender.
I flavored the herbed butter with lemon thyme from our garden and flat-leaf parsley.
Creeping red thyme from our garden.
There are other cuts of steak that are likely to produce tender results, as opposed to those cuts that won’t. Sirloin, filet, porterhouse, T-bone, New York strip will all make a tender steak cooked this way, whereas things like flank steak or other more fibrous cuts would not.
You can check the doneness of the meat by using a digital thermometer. (You can get a digital thermometer at IKEA for a reasonable price). Here is a guideline for the degree of doneness of the steaks.
Rare: 130°F. Gently press the steak with your finger; there should be light resistance.
Medium-rare: Between 145°F and 150°F. Gently press the steak with your finger; there should be resistance against the crust and juice should come to the surface.
Well done: Between 155°F and 170°F. The flesh should be firm to the touch.