Steak pasta in red wine sauce
In my Kitchen, pasta dishes will always serve as a backbone to my weekly food intake. Pasta dishes to regular cooks is what paper is to writers. Once you have mastered the outline to a few pasta recipes, the panic of plate-filling is lifted on a weekly basis knowing that you can whip out a pasta dish with ease and satisfaction.
While I never really consider myself a Kitchen snob, I must admit that I haven’t bought a jar of pasta sauce in over 9 months. Yes ma’am. I don’t believe a premade pasta sauce boasts anything special within the jar that I cannot replicate at home. I believe that pasta sauces, when done from scratch, provide a much better-rounded surrounding for the pasta to live in.
This meal in particular bears a hearty saltiness within the sauce that truly deepens the taste of the pasta pieces. Having said this, the light jus-like consistency of the sauce is perfect so that the depth of the steak pieces can justly be appreciated.
I began with a few pieces of pre-chopped steak. As the intention here is to pan-fry the steak, I wanted to make sure that the exterior of the meat is coated with flavour therefore I dropped the pieces of steak into a small bowl with some flour, salt and pepper and made sure every piece was coated. The flour ensures that once the steak is fried, the exterior will collect the flavours it is being fried in allowing taste and texture to do a double-act on your palette.
Then I started cooking and I started with a deep pan. Doesn’t it always begin this way? I then dropped in a small tin of anchovies. Now, here we go. I can feel you recoil through the screen. I know anchovies are an extremely acquired taste and far be it for me to belittle people who do not like anchovies, but their main complaint is often ill-informed distaste.
The main complaint I hear from people who dislike anchovies is they are too fishy, however I must stress that anchovies do not bear a fishy taste but more be it a full-bodied saltiness. A can of anchovies are often coated in olive oil so you may not need to heat olive oil in the pan – just use the oil from the can of anchovies.
I allowed the anchovies to dissolve in the pan so that they became detached nuggets of brown salty goodness. I then tumbled in the well-floured pieces of steak and allowed them to cook in the oily anchovy specks. The cooking time here is optional. As I enjoy my steak rare so I only cook for a small amount of time but feel free to cook according to your preference.
Next I threw in some chopped mushrooms – allowing enough room in the pan so there was no grouping otherwise the mushrooms do not brown to their full capacity. Once the mushrooms had begun to brown and sweat I decided that this hearty meal needed a little nuttiness so I crushed one clove of garlic into the pan. When garlic is crushed it is pushed into small particles, which are browned individually giving the meal a nutty taste as opposed to the famous ‘garlicky’ taste that is provided with sliced garlic.
Meanwhile in a separate pan I began to cook some fussili pasta in boiled water and a beef OXO cube. I boiled them in an OXO cube as the pasta water in this recipe plays a vital role in the eventual pasta sauce. Once the pasta was close to being cooked, I added a few sprigs of rosemary to the pan of steak and mushrooms.
To this mix, it’s time to throw in some red wine. The blueprint for cooking with red wine is don’t cook with it if you wouldn’t drink it. I allowed the red wine to bubble up in the steak mix so that the top alcohol-tasting notes were burnt out leaving only the main body of the wine to soak into the succulent meat. Then I took a small ladle full of the beef pasta water and poured it into the pan of bubbling red wine. The pasta water helps the red wine sauce emulsify as well as thickening the existing notes with a beefy flavour.
I then drained the pasta and threw them into the pan of red wine and steak. It then becomes a bold, brassy meal with no subtlety in it’s flavours. A quick whip around with a wooden spoon allowed everything to mix together before throwing it the pasta onto a plate with a small grating of parmesan (P.S. – the parmesan is definitely optional as the preliminary anchovies provide saltiness, however I am a natural pig and always want more).
This an ‘expensive’ tasting dish that is made literally from two pans and a few ingredients. And as a side note, if you’re cooking this meal for one of those fussy eaters who would hate anchovies – just don’t tell them.
They really won’t know.