I posted on steak a couple of days ago but Blogger wiped the lot for some unfathomable reason when I pressed the Publish button and I was so cross it's taken a full couple of days to resume.
Anyway, to start again, people think that steak is expensive but it needn't be if you use cheaper cuts. Here in France we have bavette, onglet and aiguillette. Back home there's minute steak and skirt (if you ask the butcher). All should be cut thinly so you really don't need that much (250-300g will easily serve 2)
A favourite French recipe is bavette aux echalotes (skirt with shallots) which could equally well be called bavette au vinaigre because it uses a full 75ml (about half a small wine glass) of red wine vinegar.
Sounds scary but here's how it works. You give the steak slices a bit of a bash with a meat mallet or rolling pin to make them even thinner, rub them lightly with oil, season them on both sides and set them aside (steak should always be cooked at room temperature)
You peel and slice 6-8 shallots - or a medium sized onion. You get your other ingredients ready - butter, red wine vinegar, tomato ketchup (yes, really), and some leftover red wine (or wine and beef stock)
You heat a frying pan until really hot - almost smoking. You lay in the steak slices and cook them for about a minute to a minute and a half each side, depending how well done you like your steak and set them aside on a warm plate.
Turn the heat down, add a bit more oil and butter and fry the shallots or onion for about 5 minutes or until soft then pour in half a small wineglass (75ml) of vinegar which will sizzle alarmingly. Press on and cook until the vinegar has almost evaporated then add a good tablespoon of ketchup and a good glug of wine (again about 75ml) or wine and stock. Cook for another couple of minutes then season with salt and pepper and taste.
If the sauce still tastes a bit sharp which it might if your wine is also a bit vinegary add a little more ketchup. If it needs rounding out (i.e. tastes a bit thin) whisk in a little butter. The sauce should be tangy but not mouth-puckeringly sour
When you've tweaked it to your satisfaction slip the steaks and their juices back into the pan and heat through for a minute. Then serve with a good dollop of mash if you've had the forethought to cook some. Or frites. Or a green salad if, like me, you're trying to lay off the spuds.
This seems to have turned into a recipe but it's really more of a guide to how the French tackle cheap cuts and manage to make them really tasty. Except no self-respecting Frenchman would use le ketchup, I'm sure.