To make roast vegetables and grilled porterhouse for four, you will need:
- 500g porterhouse in one piece
- 250g baby potatoes
- 3 sweet peppers
- 10 zucchini (baby marrows)
- 4 baby squash
- 4 pattipans
- 3 red onions, peeled
- 8 shallots, peeled
- Fresh oregano and rosemary
- Coriander seeds, whole
And for the optional sauce:
- 60ml Thai fish sauce
- Juice of three limes (or lemons)
- A sprig or two of fresh dhania (coriander)
Weird as it may seem for opportunistic carnivores like ourselves, vegetables can enhance a meal without the tedium of boiling them. Roasting is a pleasant surprise, easy to do, but not with a few notes on theory. Begin by preheating the oven to 200°C. Prepare the vegetables by cutting them into more or less the same sized chunks. This is to ensure an even rate of cooking. Cut the baby potatoes into quarters with the skin on, halve the baby squash, quarter the red onions, halve the shallots and cut the zucchini into 25mm sections.
The sweet peppers are best dealt with by topping and tailing each pepper, discarding the pith and seeds, then cutting the flesh into strips 10mm wide. In a mortar with a pestle, crush a teaspoon of coarse salt, a teaspoon of black pepper and a teaspoon of whole coriander seeds. Arrange the prepared vegetables in the roasting dish, taking care to limit the depth to one layer. If you have a surplus, use a second roasting dish.
The one layer rule is essential to create the taste, aroma and appearance of roasted vegetables. Our purpose here is to lightly caramelise the sugars latent to the various vegetables, so producing that crisp flavoursome outer layer. This is best achieved via the high heat of the oven plus the searingly hot base of the roasting pan.
Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the raw vegetables, shake the pan to ensure all vegetable surfaces are lightly coated, sprinkle the chopped fresh oregano and rosemary, followed by the crushed salt, pepper and coriander seeds. Stick this in the oven for 30 minutes or for as long as it takes to cook, turning the vegetables once at half time with an egg lifter.
Meanwhile, grill the steak the way you like it. I like it rare over a high heat turning the steak every 30 seconds. This produces a caramelised crust from the blood sugars and a warm pink interior. Cut the steak into thinnish slices and mix it with the roasted vegetables.
Now for the optional dipping sauce. In a small bowl, mix the Thai fish sauce and the juice of three limes. Stir and garnish with a sprig or two of fresh dhania (coriander). Place a small container of the sauce near each diner who may (or may not) wish to dip the odd forkful into the fragrant Thai sauce.
Enjoy. Never was such good food so easy to prepare.
Contact David Basckin at [email protected] with ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line.