As weeks go, the last seven days have been quite surreal.
There’s not much that can prepare you for making your debut on national television. It’s a little like getting onto a rollercoaster in the dark with no clue as to how the ride will pan out.
Thankfully, there have been no major hiccoughs. The heats and quarterfinals have been safely navigated and I’ve come out the other side as a MasterChef semi-finalist. It’s truly wonderful to be able to write those words.
The response has also been fantastic and genuinely heart warming. Thank you to everyone who has phoned, written, texted, emailed, tweeted or shouted across a car park. Thanks even to the person who suggested I might be Chris Martin and Stephen Merchant’s offspring (but only because you’re a Radio 1 DJ).
But my favourite response has been this:
It was quite a surprise when we pulled up in the car park at the butcher/farm shop/deli/food nerd’s nirvana that I go to and saw that sign, usually reserved for far more important matters like proclaiming the arrival of the season’s first rhubarb or new potatoes.
We were there to pick up a meal worthy of a celebration - and to my mind few things shout ‘hooray’ better than a whopping great steak. Whilst individual pieces are all well and good, practicality, economy and taste favour a shared piece of beef, especially if cooked rare and sliced tableside.
A hearty single rib (côte de boeuf if you wish to get all Gallic about it) from a Red Poll raised a mere four miles away was ideal. Aged just over four weeks the meat was dark red and looked tender enough to eat as was. Instead it was liberally seasoned, vacuum packed and submerged in a water bath to bob around merrily for a couple of hours at 52 degrees.
The logistics of the operation presented some slight problems: on realising that my largest pan was not big enough the bone had to be trimmed away and the rib-eye seared on both sides for about five minutes in order to put a tasty crust on the outside.
It was served with chips, an artery-clogging amount of béarnaise sauce and a heap of steamed broccoli as a concession to health - although once dipped into the rich buttery sauce the beneficial effects were possibly negated.
After waiting two and a half hours for a steak there was little that could have prevented us from falling on it like a pack of wolves hence the distinct lack of well composed, perfectly lit photographs.
In this case the lack of picture says a thousand words.
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The MasterChef quarter final can be found here, on the BBC iPlayer and the first of the semi finals will be broadcast on BBC1 on Friday 26th March at 7:30pm.
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