Roast fillet of beef with a truffle and root vegetable infusion
It may come as some surprise that I don’t often eat fillet of beef. Why? Well for one it is damned expensive and secondly I genuinely feel that it lacks flavour when compared to other cheaper cuts. I was therefore a bit apprehensive about this particular dish as I had visions of an expensive, flavourless waste of time.
Still, I had to give it a go… perhaps I would be proved wrong.
I started off with the shin. Now this is something which requires a heap of time to cook which is why I started it early. I was supposed to get about half a KG of shin, off the bone, in one piece but my butcher only had slices of shin so that had to do. I browned them briefly in a heavy based pot and then did the same with the vegetables. I deglazed with the wine, added the beef stock, plonked in the shin, covered with a parchment lid and let it braise for a few hours.
I then kicked back, watched a bit of American Chopper on Discovery channel (I love that show, and I don’t know why) and then I got on with prepping the other bits and pieces needed for the dish. First off I prepared the infusion vegetables and herbs. This was simple… just chop up some vegetables which included carrots, asparagus tips, pea pods and radishes. I also added one morel mushroom (Chopped up as well) and chopped up black truffle trimmings. To this I added some thyme sprigs and rosemary.
I then prepared the consomme clarification mixture. Now I was sceptical to say the least. I have eaten consommes in the past, including Gordon Ramsay’s own restaurant and they come as extremely clear liquid but with an intense flavour. I always assumed that they finely sieved the liquid to achieve that, but little did I know that they actually used egg white to clarify the mixture. Apparently the egg protein is important in the process as all the impurities in the liquid stick to the egg mixture as it cooks and then when you sieve it you are then able to separate the two parts easily. Anyway, the clarification mixture involved egg whites and some thyme and rosemary leaves with some beef trimmings which I blitzed in a food processor for about a min.
By this stage the shin had finished cooking. I took it out and started to shred it. Once shredded I added a bit of the stock and then put equal portions into four separate plastic bags and then flattened them out into disc shapes. These then went into the fridge for a bit to set.
I then sieved the braising stock and allowed to cool for a bit. As I wanted to show you the difference between the stock before clarification and after it, here is a shot of the stock before clarification
A bit cloudy no? Fingers crossed the clarification works! I started to heat the stock slowly and added the egg mixture and continuously whisked. The sauce started to take on a seriously vomitlicious colour of grey mucous and I felt my spirits quail. I had just ruined the sauce. My consomme hopes were dashed! Life sucks. But I kept it up in the hopes that I could still salvage something from this. I whisked some more until more vomit coloured eggy foam rose to the surface and I then took it off the heat and carefully spooned the liquid-come-vom into the muslin lined sieve.
I didn’t squash the liquid through, I just let it sit there and let gravity do its thing. After a few minutes I took a peek under the muslin and lo and behold it had worked. What was left was this crystal clear, orangy/reddy consomme! I was ecstatic… I even danced a little bit around the kitchen. Take a look at the after shot
Err, well you can’t really see from this shot just how clear it was, but it was clear. You will see the result in the final photo. I added this back into the pan and heated it up again. Once it was piping hot I added it to the infusion mixture and let it sit there for a bit to, umm, infuse, and then I sieved it back into the pot and kept it ready for the final plating.
I then proceeded to individually blanch the vegetables for the final dish. These included carrots, peas and swede. Now the book asks for kohlrabi which I believe is like a German turnip… needless to say I didn’t have any of those lying around. Wikipedia on the other hand said that swede is very similar so I went with that instead. The book also says that some pasta is an optional extra, but I didn’t bother with that as you are only talking about 3-4 pasta bits per plate, which didn’t seem worth it to me.
Once the veggies had been blanched I then cooled them in cold water and set them aside. It was time to cook the fillet. Nothing really incredible here, I just seasoned it like you won’t believe (Fillet needs this in my opinion which is why I just don’t get why people regard it so highly) fried it on all sides and then popped it into the oven for about 8 min. It was a rather thick piece of fillet so I actually needed to cook it for a further 5 min after than to get it to the ‘medium’ cooked stage. Whilst this was going on I wilted some cabbage in some salted water. Once cooked it was time to plate up.
First up was the cabbage. Using a cooking ring I put down a layer of cabbage on the plate, followed by the disc of shin. I then spooned a bit of the heated consomme to heat up the shin. I added the vegetables to the plate, spooned more of the consomme to the dish and then finally added slices of fillet on top of the shin disc.
Was it good? It was actually. In fact it was delicious. The fillet was melt in your mouth tender which I suppose is what the whole point of the cut is all about. I still feel it lacks a lot of flavour when compared to other cuts of beef, but I am prepared to say that it fitted the dish well. The shin was delicious and also melted in your mouth, partly due to it’s shredded nature I guess. The consomme was a huge hit though. It was probably the most satisfying thing I have done from a cooking perspective… it was light but powerful in flavour, and although the photos are not that brilliant in showing just how clear the liquid was I can give you my word it was totally free of any form of impurities prior to plating. It was a resounding success. I think in future I would probably want to try oxtail instead of shin for the disc as this has loads more flavour in my opinion and perhaps try a different cut of beef instead of fillet… maybe rib-eye? Anyway, this was a very satisfying dish to make as well as eat and I can safely say I will be doing the consomme thing again. In fact it will be in my next post.
Roast fillet of beef with a truffle and root vegetable infusion… Done!