- Food & Drink
Another year is done, and I am a little older and a lot more shameless. That’s the best thing about ageing. As I inch further and further along my timeline, I realise there’s less and less stuff for me to worry about.
I had dinner at The Camberwell Arms on New Year’s Eve. We’d booked a table for 9pm. There was a 7pm sitting, but we thought we’d be under the table by 11.30pm if we ate then. That’s the other good thing about getting older. You know your limits. Or, you know whether or not you have any limits and then plan ahead to minimise the damage.
Dinner was a set menu for £45. It started with a prosecco cocktail that seemed to be a mix of Italian fizz and Archers. Note to everyone: it’s too soon to bring back peach schnapps. Much, much too soon.
A collection of starters, including fat fists of pumpkin croquette flavoured with Berkswell and sage and a pile of hot smoked salmon, blinis and pickled cucumbers, were the lead up to the beef. The huge, huge plate of beef.
Aged Dexter beef, rimmed with fat and seasoned to make the eyes roll back in your head, with two turrets of roast bone marrow standing guard at the end of the plate. We made our way through about half of it, along with roast potatoes, crispy Brussels sprouts, creamed spinach, great fronds of watercress and pots of hot peppercorn and buttery béarnaise sauce.
There was no way we were going to finish the beef (although obviously we opened up our pudding stomachs for the apple pie with custard and cinnamon ice cream). We eyed the beef. It was a pity to not eat it. “We should ask to have it wrapped to take home.”
We’re not American. This wasn’t a cavernous Chinese restaurant with an infinite stack of take-away tubs. Could we ask to take the leftover beef home? Should we.
Fuck it: “Can we have the beef wrapped please? In two parcels?”
We could. Two tin foil packages came back to the table, and one went into my handbag. I turned half of it into a noodle stir-fry, using a recipe from Mimi Aye’s book Noodle! The final two slices ended up in this wintry warm salad, flash fried covered in a garlicky mustard dressing. If there is no rare roast beef tucked in your handbag, then you can use steak.
Warm Steak Salad with Roast Roots & Mustard Dressing
Fat, for roasting
1 large carrot
1 small beetroot
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
Steak of your choice
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
A handful of salad leaves
1 Heat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Add a few tablespoons of fat to a roasting tin – beef dripping or olive oil would be my choice – and stick it in the oven for 10 minutes to heat up.
2 Trim and peel the parsnip, carrot and beetroot. Slice them into batons around about the size of your little finger. Peel and slice the onion into wedges.
3 Add the parsnips and carrots to the tin of hot fat. Season and toss around in the fat to coat. Make space in the middle and add the beetroot. Spoon over some fat. Slide the tin into the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
4 Add the onion wedges and unpeeled garlic cloves to the tin and give everything gentle stir (the beetroot will bleed all over anything they touch, which is inevitable, but you can minimise this by being gentle and not going stir, stir, stir). Return to the oven and roast for another 30 minutes till everything is browned and tender.
5 When there is 10 minutes of cooking left, put a griddle pan on to heat. Brush the steak with olive oil and season. When the pan is smoking hot, add the steak and cook to your liking. Transfer to a warm plate, loosely cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
6 Take the veg out of the oven. Take out the garlic and squeeze the cloves from the skins. Mash them with a fork, then whisk them with the mustard, oil, vinegar and honey. Season, taste and add a little more of whatever you think it needs (or nothing, if it’s perfect as it is).
7 Arrange a handful of salad leaves on a warm plate. Add the roast veg, slice the steak and add that. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.