Man Food with Mark Hix

Steak and crispy shallot salad

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Salads have the potential to be truly uninspiring, but with a little thought you can turn a boring plate of cold foliage into something surprisingly exciting. 

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I hate those bags of floppy mixed leaves that supermarkets sell. For me, salad leaves need to be tasty and robust, and the best tend to be wild.

If you’re a bit of a forager, you may already pick wild leaves, or if you’re into gardening, you’ll probably have weeds such as pennywort, chickweed and bittercress growing in the borders, which are ideal for the salad bowl.

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Other interesting leaves you can grow include land cress, rocket and silver sorrel, all of which will get your dinner guests talking. When it comes to dressings, I’m a bit of a vinegar addict. I have a cupboard full of countless varieties from good cider to muscatel.

Mix up a glug of your favourite with a splash of oil and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect salad dressing; just add leaves.

You can use any cut of steak for this: rib, sirloin, rump, or better still, hanger (onglet). I like to use peppery leaves like rocket, land cress and watercress in this salad. Add some texture with a couple of cos lettuce hearts.

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The salad
2 x 300g steaks
200g or so of salad leaves (see opposite)
5–6 medium shallots, halved, root removed and sliced
Flour for dusting
100ml milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The dressing
1½tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
½tbsp Dijon mustard

Directions
1 | Pre-heat about 8cm of oil to 160–180ºC in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or deep-fat fryer. Put the shallots into the flour, shaking off any excess, then mix through the milk, and then through the flour again, shaking off any excess. Fry them, a handful at a time for 3–4 minutes until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. You don’t need to worry about keeping these hot.
2 | Heat a ribbed griddle pan or a heavy-bottomed frying pan, or better still a barbecue. Season the steaks well and cook to
your liking. For me, it has
to be rare, especially in a salad. Make the dressing by mixing the ingredients together and seasoning. Dress the leaves and arrange on serving plates. Slice the steak and add it to the salad, then scatter the shallots on top.

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