There are a few staples in French bistrots and brasseries, and the Bavette à l’échalote is definitely one of them. This is for the meat-lovers, as it has to be cooked rare or medium-rare (see my post about the Unsung Heroes of Beef cuts), and paired with sautéed potatoes and a glass of Côtes du Rhône or other Burgundy wine, that’s a thing of beauty. Simple, tasty and utterly satisfying. There’s something almost magical in the balance between the ingredients.
First is the Bavette steak, called Flank in the UK. but you also can use Onglet (skirt in the UK). Full of pure beef flavour, and tender if cooked how it should be. Then the shallots, bringing a gentle sweetness. The sautéed potatoes, adding a bit of mellow buttery crunch to the lot… and ultimately, a sip of Côtes du Rhone: not too bold, not too weak. It will enhance the flavours of the dish instead of masking them (that’s why I would avoid Bordeaux wines with this dish…). In that respect, it epitomises the way the French see their meal; every part of it should balance each other. That is why I will favour sautéed potatoes (have a look at my recipe…) over frites, for instance. sautéed potatoes are unctuous and melting, not crying for any kind of sauce. Frites, on the other hand are dryer, and more likely to require a sauce.
But – I hear you say – there is a sauce! Actually, not really, as it’s more of a nice blanket to dress up the steak. As for any classic, you will find endless variations: with white wine and cream (can’t see the point of white wine with red meat, but with a pork chop, it’s just brilliant! That will be for another post…), with red wine and stock – for me, this is more what we call Marchand de Vin (Wine Merchant). There are actually two schools: Just shallots and butter (an awful lot of butter…), or shallots, butter (less butter…) and red wine (that is actually the top photo), so I’ll include both options in the recipe. And now, to your frying pan! Ready, Steady, Go!
Bavette a l’échalote : A French bistrot classic…Course: MainCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy
As you can see on the photo above, this one was cooked VERY rare, and with just Shallot and Butter !
1 x 200g Bavette steak (flank) or 1 Onglet (skirt)
1 large Scallion Shallot
100g Unsalted Butter (50g if using red wine)
Salt & Pepper
125 ml red wine (if using)
- Put a frying pan on medium-heat with a knob of butter.
- Take the steak out of the fridge and pat it dry with a kitchen towel. Add a good grind or pinch of pepper.
- As soon as the butter is melted, put the steak in. Do not turn it repeatedly, as we want a nice shine on it. For doneness, if it’s a Bavette (which is slightly thicker) count 4 to 5 minutes on each side for rare, and 6 to 7 for medium-rare. If it’s a skirt, count 3 minutes on each side for rare, 5 for medium-rare.
- While the steak is cooking, peel the shallot, and chop it finely.
- Once the steak is cooked to your liking, keep it aside for 8 to 10 minutes. Ideally, get any kind of wire rack on top of a plate, and loosely foil the lot. It will keep the steak warm, but it won’t baste in blood, especially if cooked rare.
- Lower down the temperature under your pan, and add the shallot and half of what’s left of the butter. scrap all the goodness at the bottom of your pan with a spatula. Leave the shallot to cook until translucent, then add the rest of the butter. When the butter is melted, simply turn the heat off, and leave it in the pan.
Alternatively, skip adding the rest of the butter, and add a glass of red wine – about 120 ml – (the same wine that you’re planning to drink with your dish). Boost the temperature and leave it to reduce until it reaches a syrupy consistency. That’s actually the option I used on the photo above…hence the red shallots!
- Pat your steak dry, lightly salt it (if you have some, use French Fleur de Sel or Maldon sea salt flakes) and plate it. If you feel like it (as I do…), at the last minute, pour any juice/blood from the resting steak in the pan and mix it with the shallot and butter, that’s just an option, but it adds some meatiness to the dish.
TIP: NEVER add the blood while it’s cooking, as it will curdle!
Coat the steak with the shallots and enjoy…