Half a week of temporary bachelorhood has restored Meats to its rightful place before Roots and Leaves. For three whole days fruits and vegetables were relegated to their proper roles – hidden in sauces and condiments – while steaks, chops and roasts have had the run of the kitchen. For three whole days the bananas turned brown on the counter, the leafy greens in the refrigerator drawer were left to their leafy green devices and the word “folate” wasn’t heard once, not even in jest.
When I was a real bachelor, things were a little different: clothes were coordinated by odour rather than colour; the local Pizza Pizza franchisee depended on me to pay his mortgage; and, the Leaning Tower of Beer Bottles that occupied fully one-quarter of my one-room apartment was my idea of art.
These days, I favour a more civilized pick-up-your-dirty-socks kind of bachelorhood (think English Country House rather than Frat House). Knives and forks enjoy full employment, beer is poured into glasses (or mugs if it happens to be breakfast), the empties neatly stacked out of sight. And, every steak, like the pan-fried beauty pictured above, has its sauce.
(The tomatoes, by the way, are strictly decorative.)
I have nothing against a good old jar of HP Sauce. Lord knows, it was one of the main sources of nutrition during the boiled-mince-and-potatoes days of my childhood. Somehow, though, buying a big bottle of steak sauce – like ordering take-out – seems like a dangerous step backwards for a bachelor. The condiment aisle is a slippery slope down to the frozen food section; a little too much of the sauce and I might find myself in front of the TV, scarfing down Hungry Man Dinners in my underwear.
Best to maintain control and stick to the you-can-only-eat-it-if-you-make-it rule. Otherwise, I might end up reverting to the days when I considered Doritos a major food group.
Thank goodness for the folks at Joe Beef – they understand what a bachelor needs. This recipe for “gentleman” (sic) steak sauce was adapted from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, which has to be one of the most entertaining cookbooks ever.
Here’s what the “cookbook of sorts” has to say about this addictive condiment: “We champion this generalization: gentlemen eat their beef with steak sauce – the brown type, thick and sharp.”
And, I might add, they take the time to open the curtains every morning, even if it is just going to get dark again in a few hours.
Joe Beef’s ‘Gentleman steak sauce’
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
4 green onions, roughly chopped
2 anchovy fillets
3 whole cloves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Cover the prunes with hot water and leave to soak for one hour.
Combine all ingredients in a small, heavy pan and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes until the sauce is as thick as ketchup. Add a little more water if it gets too thick. Puree with an immersion blender (or, transfer to a food processor) and let the sauce cool. Store, refrigerated, in tightly sealed jars for up to 1 month. Enjoy.