"My family doesn’t eat meat every day, and when we do we don’t necessarily have enormous portions, so small bites of beef need to have a ton of great flavour. Marinating builds in more flavour notes, especially in meat that doesn’t cook very long. I often put meat to marinate in the fridge before I leave the house in the morning; when we are ready for dinner, I cook it quickly over high heat, just long enough to fry the spices without burning them. Cooking lentils slowly as you would risotto keeps them more separate, with a toothier texture. It’s another example of taking a humble ingredient and preparing it with the care you would use for a more valuable commodity".
- Boneless beef sirloin steak 680 g (1. lb), cut 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick
- Garlic cloves 6
- Coriander seeds 2 teaspoons
- Fennel seeds 2 teaspoons
- Extra-virgin olive oil 120 ml (4 fl oz)
- Sweet paprika 2 teaspoons
- Fresh thyme sprigs 5
- Rapeseed oil 2 teaspoons
- Onion 1
- Puy (green) lentils 200 g (7 oz)
- Bay leaves 2
- Dry white wine 240 ml (8. fl oz)
- Chicken broth (see page 149) 1.2 litres (2 pints), as needed
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Tomatoes 3 medium
- Flaky salt
- Fresh coriander leaves 30
- Marinate the beef: Cut the beef into 12-mm (½-inch) strips. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and discard the papery skins. Use a pestle and mortar or a spice mill to grind the coriander and fennel seeds to a powder. Add the garlic, coriander and fennel to a large bowl. Add the oil, paprika and thyme and mix well. Add the beef and massage the marinade into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. If you don’t have a spice mill, use a coffee grinder. Whiz a bit of rice in the grinder before and after grinding the spices to clean it.
- To make the lentils: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Chop the onion and add it to the saucepan. Cook without stirring until it is lightly browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Stir the onion and continue to cook until it is golden brown, about 3 minutes more.
- Add the lentils and bay leaves and stir for 1 minute. Turn the heat down to
low and stir in the wine. Let the wine simmer until only about 1 tablespoon remains. Stir in about 480 ml (¾ pint) of the broth to barely cover the lentils, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer the lentils, stirring every 5 to 7 minutes and adding more broth in 120-ml (4-fl oz) increments as needed to cover the lentils. After 15 minutes, taste a lentil, and stop adding broth when they still have a bit of snap, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.
- To core the tomatoes easily, slice downwards next to but not through the stem. Make two angled cuts into the larger half to release the core and discard. Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Add them to the lentils, but don’t stir them in. Cover the saucepan and remove from the heat.
Now, to cook the beef: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is very hot, add half of the meat in a single layer. Cook the meat without moving it for 30 seconds, then use tongs to turn each piece. Cook on the second side for about 1½ minutes, then turn again. Cook for a final 30 seconds and transfer to a bowl. Reheat the frying pan, and cook the remaining beef. Season the meat strips with the salt. Chop half of the coriander leaves and stir them into the beef. You will not need to add oil to the frying pan because of the beef marinade.
Give the lentils a quick stir to mix in the tomatoes. Spoon the lentils into bowls. Top with the beef, sprinkle with the reserved coriander, and serve.
Extracted from Downtime by Nadine Levy Redzepi (Ebury Press, £27) Photography by Ditte Isager