On the wild side: Tim Maddams will be cooking steak for Valentine's Day
PUBLISHED: 14:08 10 February 2015 | UPDATED: 14:08 10 February 2015
Just what should you cook for Valentine's Day, ponders our chef columnist, TIM MADDAMS
Why is it that a candlelit diner for two is the epitome of romance? This has to be a construct of the marketing folk right? Romantic meals for two are all very well when you are in the first flush of love’s young dream, staring lovingly into each others’ eyes as a relatively ‘okay’ supper is eaten and a poor quality wine imbibed, but of course something else is going on that has nothing to do with the food. Its chemistry of a different sort - and the restaurant is just the backdrop to this bigger story.
I shared some amazing meals with my true love during our courtship, but could the food ever have been bad enough to put us off each other? I doubt it.
Life moves on and if I were able to secure a babysitter and scrape together the cash after the mortgage is paid, the children fed and the car MOT’d I would love to take my long suffering other half out for supper. The food would have to be good, the wine reasonably priced and an early table acquired to stop us falling asleep over the main course. However, if I were to start gazing lovingly at Mrs M she would assume I’d snaffled a cheeky scotch or two at the bar whilst she was powdering her nose rather than think, for a minute, I was communicating my undying love for her.
Love changes but romance means you will remember even the most humble of meals as a splendid feast if you have eaten it with your love.
These days, I’d rather stay at home and cook than go out on Valentine’s night. I will leave the pun- laden menus and sticky sweet desserts for two and instead look at what true love means - the true love of food as well as my family, for this is the love that binds us all together on the good ship marriage, through even the stormiest of stormy seas.
That said, if I don’t pull my finger out on the day and offer swanky chocolates (locally sourced and Fairtrade of course), flowers and a bottle of fizz then I, like every other married man in the county, will be in the doghouse. So, what shall I cook? Now, that’s the really big question…
If I do know one thing is that that the main course will have to be steak. A big, fat steak of local dry aged beef, cooked medium rare and served with home made chips, garlic mushrooms and a good bottle of Merlot.
With a simple meal like this the key is to go all out on the ingredients and keep the cooking simple. So, look for rare breed beef from a local farm shop or butcher and select a nice bit of rib, rump or sirloin – leave the fillet, there’s simply not enough fat there to flavour the meat as it ages and dries. Then look after it. Place it on a plate and wrap it in greaseproof, so it won’t sweat or dry out in the fridge.
This is probably the only steak I will eat all year, so le’ts make it a good one, the prime Devon Ruby Red or Dexter or any other old fashioned beef animals farmed here in Devon will provide the very best of beef the world has to offer.
Tim Maddams works as a private chef throughout the South West. You can catch him in person this year at the various Hall and Hearty community dining events which are listed at hallandhearty.co.uk. Tim, who is a former River Cottage head chef, also offers bespoke wild food forays.