Flap steak with brunost pan sauce and pickled fennel

Norwegians and I agree on a lot of things: salty licorice gummy fish are the best candy, humans shouldn’t work after 4pm, everyone should be quiet everywhere, mushy bowls of warm carbs are an art form, and breakfast and lunch should always include bread and cheese. Specifically: brunost.

Technically speaking, brunost isn’t a cheese at all but a by-product of cheese. It’s made by slowly cooking down and caramelizing leftover whey. Have you ever heard a more Pantry Raid thing in your life?

The flavor is mild and reminds me of brown butter. The texture is dense, creamy and a little odd, almost sticky. You either love it or you hate it. I ADORE it. Not only is it the most perfect topping for a piece of buttered bread, it melts like a dream. Norwegians like to use it to thicken stew. I have big ideas about putting it in frangipane and cheesy grits and hot chocolate, but until I have time to recipe test, here’s something a little more traditional- a pan sauce made with stock, fermented dairy and brunost. If you happen to have some juniper berries on hand to flavor this sauce, that would be very Norwegian. If not, freshly cracked black pepper is nice too.

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Flap Steak with Brunost Pan Sauce
-serves four

1 1/3 pounds flap steak
neutral oil
kosher salt
2/3 cup good stock
1T honey
60 grams grated brunost (about one cup)
a scant cup room temperature creme fraiche
1T cornstarch slurried with 2T water
fresh cracked black pepper

Pickled fennel
one medium bulb fennel
1 small shallot
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2T sugar
2 bay leaves
warm spices such as 8 whole cloves, 2 star anise, or a 3” cinnamon stick

1. Make the pickled fennel: slice the fennel and shallot very, very thin and place in a clean jar with bay leaves and spices. Bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil, then pour over the vegetables. Set aside to cool.
2. Make the steak: let a cast iron skillet preheat over high for at least five minutes. Pat steak dry and season with kosher salt. Add enough oil to the pan to thinly coat it. Cook steak on the first side for five minutes and on the second side for 3-4 minutes for a perfect medium to medium rare.
3. Remove steak from the pan and let it rest on a plate tented with foil. Turn the heat down to low, pour stock and honey into the pan with the steak drippings and bring to a simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients, ending with cornstarch slurry and whisk constantly until the sauce is smooth and thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add in any juices the steak has released and lots of black pepper, taste and add salt if needed. Serve immediately.