I’ve never given a crap about Valentine’s Day, it’s bullshit. Feel free to buy me flowers, chocolates and champagne dinners ANY other day of the year except the one that the greeting card industry insists upon. In fact please do buy me all of the above because I normally buy my own and it would make a nice change (and I’d much rather cheese than chocolate).
This dish seems somewhat appropriate for this week’s day of nervous love interests, hopeful singletons, gleeful florists, stressed chefs and poor old FOH managers. A few days ago I visited Weald Smokery and picked up some of their new thinly sliced smoked ox tongue. I love ox tongue, I’ve never had it smoked though and normally I have it in big thick slices and plenty of green sauce. I love the smokiness of a steak cooked on a BBQ so decided to use the smoke of the tongue to pair with a steak, but which one?
The pope’s eye steak is a little hidden gem of a cut most often chucked into the trim bin for mince. It sits right inside the aitch bone of the beast and in layman’s terms is the sphincter or arse muscle. It’s rippled with white lines that also gives it’s other name of the spider steak because it looks a bit like a cobweb in its marbling.
Normally when you see marbling in a steak you think, “hmmm, lots of flavour but going to need careful cooking” but not with the pope’s eye. This steak has plenty of wonderful flavour and is so delicately tender I can eat cooked black (crusted exterior) and blue (centre) which in my book is really the ONLY way I like to eat beef. This tenderness however will greatly depend on how the animal was hung and butchered as it can dry out if the beast has been split and the muscle exposed to air.
Popping into my local butcher’s, Derek Jones, on a Tuesday morning (their second busiest of the week) and asking for cow’s arse was bound to draw a few raised eyebrows but they know me very well in there. In fact Ben, one of the butchers, greeted me with “yeah we’ve got some cat feet in especially for you” when he saw me (no they don’t really have cat feet before I get messages of complaint!). The steak cost just £1.40 which is a total bargain for a cut with the texture of fillet but with plenty of good flavour.
I just cooked everything really simply and served with a little leftover porcini and basil crepe tower, some peppery winter leaves and carrot tops from the garden and homemade porcini butter.
- pope’s eye steak
- drizzle rapeseed oil
- sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- smoked ox tongue, thinly sliced
- Get your pan nice and hot and rub your steak with a bit of oil and season. Pop your steak in the pan, it should spit and sizzle and turn only once. I like my steaks blue so it’s just cooked for a minute then left to rest for 4 minutes on a warm plate under some foil.
- While its resting just use the residual heat in the pan to heat through the tongue slices (no heat under the pan) as they will cook in a few seconds.
And that’s it, a few more salt flakes and grinds of black pepper and you steak is done. The porcini butter will ooze across it and bring out it’s umami and the fresh peppery salad will balance the richness. Perfect.