Bavette + chips with bottarga butter + grilled baby gem

Bavette + chips with bottarga butter + grilled baby gem

A Lot on Her Plate
Helen Cathcart

Who doesn’t love steak and chips? When I really fancy a steak – perhaps for a cosy night in – I usually go for bavette. In the UK, this cheaper cut, known as a ‘butcher’s cut’ because it’s so flavoursome the butchers keep it back for themselves, is also known as skirt steak. It comes from the flank of the animal, and boasts amazing succulence and tenderness. Here I’ve paired it with my ultimate umami butter, made with bottarga, the dried roe of the grey mullet. This Italian delicacy doesn’t come cheap – so you’ll be pleased that you saved on the steak – but it’s worth investing in every once in a while because the amber roe is so intense and delicious it adds an incredible savoury richness, and it keeps for ages. When mixed into butter it’s like the most wonderful intense anchovy butter you’ve ever tasted, and what you don’t use you can freeze and save for another time, to smother on pasta or cooked greens. If you can’t find bottarga, use best-quality anchovy fillets.


Quantity Ingredient
500g bavette steak
20g bottarga, (or 8 best-quality anchovy fillets, minced)
50g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the sauce
1/2 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced
4 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
800ml vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for greasing
1 head baby gem lettuce, cleaned and cut in half
50ml chicken stock or water


  1. Take the steak out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it, to bring it up to room temperature.
  2. To make the bottarga butter, finely grate the bottarga into a bowl, add the 50 g of butter and lemon zest, and mash together thoroughly. Place 2 layers of cling film on a work surface, spoon the butter into the middle of it, and tightly roll, twisting the ends, so you have a cling film-coated sausage of butter. Place in the freezer to set.
  3. To make the chips, dry the potato pieces with kitchen paper, and, if using a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 190°C. Fry the chips in two batches for 7–10 minutes, until golden brown and soft on the inside. Drain them on kitchen paper and toss with fresh rosemary and sea salt. Lay on a roasting tray and keep in a warmed oven (100°C) until you’re ready to dish up, blasting them on a really high heat for a few minutes just before you serve. If you don’t have a deep-fat fryer, toss the chips with plenty of olive oil, salt and rosemary, and roast them in one layer in a preheated oven at 180°C for 35–40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until crisp and golden on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
  4. Season the steak thoroughly with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a greased heavy-based frying pan until stinking hot. Put the steak in the pan (it should sizzle immediately) and cook for 3–5 minutes on each side for medium-rare or 5–7 minutes for well done. Transfer to a chopping board (but keep the steak pan), cover loosely with foil and leave to rest. Remove the bottarga butter from the freezer and put two plates in the oven to warm.
  5. Brush the cut sides of the baby gem halves with olive oil and place them face down in the steak pan, over a medium heat. Leave for 2 minutes then pour over the chicken stock or water to deglaze, add a knob of butter, and pour over the lemon juice. Sauté for 3–4 minutes, until wilted and caramelised on the cut side but still retaining their shape.
  6. Slice the rested steak into thin slivers, against the grain, and divide between the warmed plates along with any juices that might have escaped. Cut the end off the bottarga butter sausage and cut 2 x 5 mm thick rounds of the butter for each steak, making sure to peel the cling film off the outside edges. Place the butter directly onto the steak and serve with the chips and baby gem. Note: If you want your bottarga butter to melt, just flash the plates under a hot grill for a minute or two.
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