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Bob Hart’s recipe for carpetbag steak

CARPETBAG STEAK

Life was very different in the year 1950, which is when a venerable woman journalist called Betty Patterson delivered, in a Brisbane newspaper, a recipe for one of the few genuinely Australian dishes.

“The most popular meal with most men is a nice, juicy steak with all the trimmings,” wrote Betty, not quite in the way the matter night be expressed today.

“And Matt Wilson says that in his 23 years as chef in hotels throughout Australia he has found carpetbag steak a never failing winner.”

I’m not surprised: a carpetbag steak is still a ripper of a dish. But sadly, it is seldom cooked these days. And even less frequently, I suspect, on a barbecue.

Which, frankly is a tragedy. So try this:

Carpetbag steak is, at its simplest, a substantial chunk of eye fillet which is pocketed and stuffed with fresh oysters. Without the shells, ideally.

All that is required is a hefty chunk of fillet cut from  the thickest part of the joint, and not from the tapering tail.

The steak is generously salted and then “pocketed” with a sharp knife by slicing a deep cut or pocket, lengthways.

The pocket is then filled with fresh oysters – I use about 4 or 6 depending on the size of the oysters which I season in a bowl with a sprinkle of cayenne.

One or more skewers are then used to close the pocket, and the steak, with oysters in place, is grilled on a gas or charcoal grill. And, ideally, is then eaten gloriously rare or, at worst, medium rare.

It is a truly magnificent dish. And, if you check your food history, is uniquely and proudly Australian.

Especially on the barbie…

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