As I've said before, I prefer to cook steak in a frying pan because, as some of the precious juices are bound to escape, they can be incorporated into the sauce to give extra body and flavour.
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This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two
First of all, heat half the oil in the frying pan over a high heat, then fry the chopped shallots and pepper until they're softened and tinged dark brown at the edges – about 6 minutes – and remove them to a plate. Now add the remaining oil to the pan and, keeping the heat high – the pan should be as hot as you dare – season the steaks with coarsely milled black pepper, but no salt yet, as this encourages the juices to come out.
Now add the steaks to the hot pan and press them gently with a spoon so that the underneath is seared and becomes crusty. Cook the steaks for about 3 minutes each side for medium, 2 for rare and 4 for well done. Then, about 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time, return the shallots and peppers to the pan, pour the wine around the steaks and, still keeping the heat high, boil until reduced and syrupy. Then add the crème fraîche and stir it into the sauce, then season with salt and sprinkle in the paprika.
Serve the steaks on hot plates with the sauce spooned over and garnish with watercress. They're lovely served with jacket potatoes and a salad.
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The secret of perfect jacket potatoes is not to hurry them – give them up to 2 hours to get the really crunchy skin. Add rock salt and crushed black pepper, then eat and savour it alone in all its humble, simple glory.
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