I love Nigella. But let me qualify that by saying that I love old Nigella; I’m ignoring every cook book from Nigellisima onwards. Old Nigella is good Nigella. How to Eat, Nigella’s first cook book, lives beside my bed and whenever I feel the need to gently soothed to sleep by Nigella’s distinctively descriptive assertive tone, I’ll pick up How to Eat and read a chapter.
Nigella writes recipes in a way that can look long and convoluted, but is actually more accessible than a short and concise recipe. Nigella talks you through the entire process of a recipe, explaining what to do and when, what you’ll see, what you’ll smell. When you cook from Nigella, she’ll stand next to you in your kitchen, helping herself to the leftover trifle in the fridge while rescuing that tray of almost-burnt roasting almonds from the oven with one hand (without an oven mitt) and raising an eyebrow when you consider only adding half the amount of stipulated butter to a recipe.
Nigella’s steak as I call it, is based on a recipe in Nigella Express. It’s a simple but clever: the steak is quickly cooked until medium-rare and then marinated in an intensely fresh combination of lemon, garlic, thyme and good extra virgin olive oil. If you marinated the steak and then cooked it, these flavours would flatten out and lose their sharpness. For me, Nigella steak served with some boiled new season Jersey Benne potatoes, asparagus spears and some wilted spinach is the perfect late spring / early summer dinner. Make it and see that old Nigella really is good Nigella.
Enough for two. Based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson, Nigella Express, 2007.
For the marinade:
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs (lemon thyme is especially good, if you have it)
zest and juice of a lemon
a garlic clove, peeled and crushed under the slide blade of a knife
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt
a generous grind of black pepper
Peel the garlic clove and place it under the side of a large knife blade and give it a good thump until it flattens out and breaks up into pieces. Place the garlic and the other ingredients into a shallow dish. If the thyme you’re using has a woody stem then remove the leaves, or if it’s soft and green just chuck the whole thing in.
For the steak:
350-400g rump steak, at room temperature
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Rub steak with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a high heat and cook the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the steak from the pan and place into marinade. The steak will continue to ‘cook’ in the marinade because of the lemon juice, but if you prefer steak to be a little less rare, you do you.
Place the steak in the marinade and flip it over a couple of times then place some of the garlic and thyme on top of the steak, cover with tin foil and set aside for ten minutes to rest. Once rested, remove the steak from the marinade and cut against the grain into thin slices. Remove the chunks of garlic from the marinade then place the steak back in to soak up some more of the goodness. Serve the steak and drizzle the extra marinade over the vegetables you’re having with it.