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Fare for a martyr

23 August 2013

By Simon Walsh


THE Church remembers St Bartholomew tomorrow. It is widely held that his grisly martyrdom came through being flayed alive; this qualifies him to be patron saint of butchers as well as tanners. At Smithfield, home to St Bartholomew the Great, nightly trucks of meat arrive to meet the needs of the country. Florentine cheese merchants also benefit from the saint's patronage, and this Tagliata dish combines Italian flavours with simple steak.

2 sirloin steaks, about 250g (½ lb)


olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 unwaxed lemon

4 sprigs of rosemary

1 bag (about 110g) of peppery

leaves such as watercress or

rocket, even spinach

hunk of parmesan cheese

Have the steaks at room temperature, and sprinkle them with a little salt. Heat a frying pan to hot, then throw in a glug of olive oil. Once it smokes, place each steak in, and press down. Turn after 15 to 20 seconds, and repeat. Try not to overcook: you want a bit of yield in the middle, but colour and crust on the outside. Transfer the meat to a board to rest for at least five minutes.

Bash the garlic cloves and slip them out of their papery skins into the pan with another good glug of olive oil. Strip the rosemary needles off the sprig, and into the pan, too, then grate in the lemon's zest. Juice the lemon, and add to the pan also. Give this a good mix, letting it bubble together and cohere over a low flame. Tip in any meat juices that collect from the resting steaks, and take off the heat.

Slice the steaks against the grain into 1cm (½-inch) strips. Arrange the peppery leaves on a serving plate, top with the meat, then spoon over the pan juices with a little of the rosemary and some black pepper. Shave slices of Parmesan and place on top. Serve with boiled or sauté potatoes, and some radishes.

Smithfield was also the location of the original Bartholomew Fair, which began during the Middle Ages. In addition to massive hog-roasts, pears and gingerbread also featured on the festal menu. Here is a recipe for a Pear and ginger crumble.

450g (1 lb) pears, peeled and cored

4 pieces of preserved ginger, with


1 tablespoon honey

10 ginger-nut biscuits

50g (2 oz) butter

Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5, and grease a 1-litre (2pt) baking dish. Chop the pears into thumb-sized chunks, along with the chopped down nibs of ginger; mix together with the honey and a little of the ginger syrup. Pour into the baking dish. Smash the ginger nuts (in a bag with a rolling pin), and sprinkle on top of the fruit, pressing down to ensure that it is even. Dot with butter, and place in the oven.

After ten minutes, reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4, and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm with some crème fraîche.

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