In the pan where you have seared the beef, make a roux and make sure to scrape all the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. That is your delicious base for the cheese gravy that you will drizzle over your seared beef.
We had this for lunch yesterday. Alex made it. The inspiration? A cheap dish they used to enjoy in college. Of course, our home version is more generous. Unlike the student fare with ultra thin beef slices and cheese sauce that tasted more of milk than cheese, the beef strips in Alex’s seared beef strips with cheese gravy are thicker and the gravy has enough cheese in it to really get the flavor of cheese with every mouthful.
What cheese is best for the gravy? Well, that depends on you. Alex used a combination of cream cheese and cheddar, but if you want a stronger cheese flavor, by all means, use aged hard cheeses.
But the trick really goes beyond the choice of cheese or cheeses. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, it starts with the browned bits that get stuck at the bottom of the pan when you sear the beef. Those browned bits that less experienced cooks think should be discarded are so full of flavor. If you stir all that into the roux, the cheese gravy will have a toasted meat flavor in it too. Can you imagine how wonderful that is?
Now, about the beef. You have to use a tender cut that, once seared, is done. You can’t use stewing cuts like brisket or shank or ribs. Go for loin or round. For best results, buy the beef uncut and do the cutting at home. That way, you can remove any stray sinews that are embedded in the meat.
Seared Beef with Cheese Gravy
For the seared beef
- 400 grams beef loin or round
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter
Sear the beef
Cut the beef into half inch slices. Make sure to remove any sinews. Cut each slice into strips about two inches long.
Place the beef in a bowl. Add the salt, pepper and garlic. Mix well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
Heat a heavy frying pan (a pan with a thin bottom will not do for this cooking method). Drop in the butter, lift the pan and swirl to melt the butter without burning.
Set the pan on the stove and, working fast, spread the beef strips on the bottom of the pan. Sear over high heat without disturbing for a minute and a half or until the undersides are browned.
Flip the pieces over, sear for a minute then stir. Cook for a minute longer, stirring occasionally.
Scoop out the beef, transfer to a plate and cover loosely.
Make the cheese gravy
Add the butter to the remaining oil in the pan. Drop in the rosemary. Melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the flour all at once then stir to remove lumps.
Cook the butter and flour, scraping the bottom of the pan, for five minutes to make a blonde roux.
Mix the milk and cream. Pour a cup into the roux, stirring as you pour. Cook, stirring, until thickened.
Stir in the cheeses and continue cooking until melted and well incorporated. Taste. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
If the cheese gravy is too thick for your liking, add the rest of the milk-cream mixture until you get the consistency that you prefer. Remember to adjust the seasonings if adding more liquid.
To serve, simply drizzle cheese gravy over the seared beef. Buttered vegetables on the side complete the meal.