Thomasina Miers' skirt steak with chimichurri and roast potatoes: 'Skirt is known for its rich flavour.' Photograph: Johanna Parkin for the Guardian. Food styling: Maud Eden
Cheap cuts often demand more adventurous treatment, so add mouth-watering aromatics and heady spices to lift them to a higher plane.
During the week, I tend to cook quick-fix vegetable dishes, but at weekends I'm all about braises or roasts. Somewhere in the middle, however, on weekdays when you want meat, something a bit more adventurous beckons. Use cheap cuts, but add mouth-watering aromatics to lift them to a higher plane.
Skirt steak with chimichurri and roast potatoes
Skirt is a cut that literally skirts around the middle ribs of the beef, and is known for its rich flavour, and it takes to very quick frying or slow braising. It's the former here, making the perfect foil for the bright salsa and the potatoes roasted in sticky tomato juices. Serves four.
700g-800g skirt/bavette steak (you'll probably need to get it from a butcher)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chimichurri
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
125 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley, picked and chopped fine
For the potatoes
750g new potatoes
3 garlic cloves1/2
1/2 small bunch thyme, leaves picked
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
300g cherry tomatoes
For the sauce, bash the garlic, cumin, paprika and chilli with a teaspoon of salt using a pestle and mortar. Stir in the vinegar, oil and parsley, add pepper to taste and set aside.
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. In a large pan of salted water, bring the potatoes to a boil and simmer until tender. Drain and leave to steam dry. Using a pestle and mortar, roughly mash the garlic, thyme and a good pinch of salt, then stir in the oil and paprika. Put the potatoes in a baking tray, pour over the herby oil, then flatten the potatoes a little with a fork. Add the tomatoes, piercing each one with the tip of a knife, season and mix to coat. Roast for 40-45 minutes, stirring a few times (squish the tomatoes when you do). When the potatoes are crisp at the edges, turn off the oven and get on with the steak.
Put a griddle on a high heat. Rub the steak with oil and season with salt. Cook for three to four minutes a side for medium-rare, transfer to a warm plate to rest for five minutes, then slice and serve with potatoes alongside and salsa dribbled on top.
Thai fragrant pork patties
Don't worry if you can't get all the spice paste ingredients for these delectable patties; just make sure they're seasoned really generously. Serve with a sliced cucumber salad dressed in sesame oil, white-wine vinegar, ginger and chilli; or, for a more substantial meal, noodles flecked with mint and coriander. You can also fry these ahead and reheat in a hot oven. Serves four to six.
2 bird's-eye red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander stalks and roots, finely chopped
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp chopped galangal (or ginger)
The zest of 1 lime
1 small handful roasted peanuts
2 egg whites
100g flour, seasoned
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
In a processor, blitz the lemongrass, chillies, coriander, shallots, garlic, galangal and lime zest to a rough paste. Bash the nuts with a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar, until a fine powder, then slowly work in the paste, smashing it all together until smooth. Season with pepper.
Put the coconut milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Just before it comes to a boil, stir in the paste, simmer for a minute, then add the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Transfer to the same food processor (there's no need to wash it first), add the mince, egg and rice, and pulse to combine; you don't want to overwork it. Season with lots of pepper. The mix should be rich, sweet and savoury.
Flour your hands, then shape tablespoons of the pork mix into balls. Put into the fridge for at least an hour to firm up (they freeze well, too). Put the egg whites and seasoned flour in separate bowls, then dip each ball first into the egg and then the flour.
To cook, add enough oil to a wok to fill by 4-5cm and heat to 180C (test by dropping in a bit of bread; if it turns golden in about 30 seconds, the oil is ready). Add the balls in batches and fry, turning once, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper before eating with the salad and, if you like, hoisin sauce on the side.
And for the rest of the week...
Medium-rare skirt steak is great sliced cold in sandwiches, especially if you add some dill pickles and mustard. I always make double the amount of chimichurri - it keeps very well in the fridge if stored in a jar or tub and topped by 1cm of oil: it's delicious poured over any kind of roast vegetables and I've even been known to use it as a sauce for pasta. I would also make double the amount of spice paste, and use the excess for stirring into beef mince to make spicy, Thai-style burgers, or into fragrant soups - just heat good stock, a few lime leaves, veg and/or chicken and a few noodles for a light, refreshing one-pot dinner.