Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Steak Frites : Mastering the cuts video 3. Filet au poivre

This is the third of our daily release of the videos, shot by Brian Jones and co-produced by Dino Joannides Dino Joannides and Daniel Young, will form the backdrop of our “why do you love steak frites?” competition on twitter, hopefully inspiring your most poetic, passionate or playful responses. [HOW TO ENTER THE COMPETITION].

Fillet is the most tender steak of all, but not necessarily the one with the most flavour. It is sought after for its delicate structure and lack of fat but ironically these are the characteristics that can make it rather bland when compared to the other great beef cuts like Onglet, Ribeye and Rump.

Fillet is cut from the inside of the beef loin, it does very little work and is therefore very tender. It can be improve when dry-aged and cut on the bone. O'Shea's of Knightsbridge age their Irish and Scottish Black Angus Grass Fed and Barley Finished Fillet for around 21- 28 days but even at 15 days it can produce superb results when cooked and served correctly.

Fillet doesn't benefit from long ageing. If left too long in a vacuum it can develop a metallic taste as the enzymes over work. Too long hanging on the bone and it will dry out, losing some of it's moisture and tenderness .

Unfortunately like with the other cuts you need to be very careful when selecting your beef as quality varies hugely so my advice is find a good Butcher ask about the provenance of the meat , the breed , what it's fed on , husbandry and so on. If the Butcher says things like Scotch, English or Argentinian and not much more you are probably in the wrong place.

Great Chefs like Henry Harris of Racine Restaurant as well as home cooks will always prepare a sauce with this delicate cut and, in the video below you can see him cook Fillet au Poivre a dish he learned to cook under the tutelage of the great Simon Hopkinson in the seminal mid 1980's restaurant Hilaire , just around the corner in Old Brompton road. That kitchen brigade then moved on to open Bibendum with Terrance Conran. The combination of veal stock , butter , black pepper , brandy and top class Fillet steak produces a wonderful steak dis that also goes very well with pommes frites. The first time I remember having this dish was when I was a child in Paris at a restaurant called Pharamond in Les Halles and it was served with pommes souffles. However I can confirm that the combination of O'Shea's of Knightsbridge Fillet and Henry Harris's cooking produced simply the best one I have ever had.