Wagyu beef sirloin with king oyster mushroom and sweet beef reduction



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I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard Elvis, the undisputed King of Rock and Roll had died. I will never forget I was in the operating theatre coffee room that Tuesday morning on the 11th September 2001 watching the TV agog at the live feed of the twin towers crashing to the ground. My first experience with wagyu beef was in a Rayokan hotel in Yudanaka where little cubes of pure heaven were cooked on hot stones. They simply melted in the mouth thereby marking one of those precious rare moments where a brief silent pause is followed by an expression of disbelief which is shortly followed by the refrain of “wow!”. Wagyu  meaning “Japanese cow” is, for good reason, a highly sought after beef which is known for its immense quality and perfect marbling. It derives from the Wagyu breed of cow. The particular strain of beef I had at the hotel was Kobe beef from the Tajima strain of wagyu cattle. when I pleaded with the perfectly attentive waitress as to how beef of such quality could be reared, she smiled in a  good-naturedly way and said that the farmer fed his cows on apples. i guess the mystery will remain a mystery.

My trip to Selfridges in London would inevitably lead to me gravitating towards the food hall. An array of beautifully displayed food instantly feasts the eye. The butchery counter displayed a stunning collection of wagyu beef cuts. I took a hunk of sirloin. The butcher kindly cut a marrowbone and a pigs trotter for me using their efficient saws. At the nearby green grocery section, I bought some stout looking king oyster mushrooms.

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This recipe combines the excellent texture and quality of the wagyu beef with the intensity of the sweet sticky beef sauce reduction and served with a meaty mushroom. It’s a carnivore’s dream. The reduction is highly flavoursome and simply delicious and becomes sticky as a result of the high gelatine component of the trotter. I assure you you will not be disappointed with this reduction. I like to think of the effect rather reminiscent of an autumnal woodland floor. This recipe serves 4 people.  Serve this with a good quality Burgundy, Brunello di Montalcino, Amarello or, if you can get hold of it, a Sassicaia.

for the sticky beef reduction

3 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped marrowbone

1 chopped pig trotter

1/2 cup (120 mls) water

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, chopped

1 turnip, peeled and chopped

1 stick celery, chopped

1 punnet of white mushrooms

10 black peppercorns

2 sprigs of thyme

1/2 cup (120 mls) Madeira wine

1 cup ( 250 mls) Red wine (full bodied such as Cabernet Sauvignon)

8 cups (1 L) beef stock

In a large pan or stock pot, heat the olive oil and brown the marrowbone and pig trotter pieces. Transfer them to a warm plate. Deglaze the pan with water. When the pan begins to sizzle, add the chopped vegetables, stirring until caramelised. Deglaze for a second time with the Madeira. Deglaze for a third time with the red wine and then let the pan simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third. Add the peppercorns and thyme then add the beef stock. Ensure the bone/trotter pieces are covered adding more stock or water to top up if necessary. Seal with a lid and cook gently for 4 hours. Periodically check the stock pot adding more water as necessary. Once complete, drain the stock into a non-stick pot and reduce the liquid until it becomes a sticky sauce. Be careful not to overcook the sauce thereby destroying the fruits of your patient reduction. You will not be happy to see a burnt cinder at the base of the pan.

For the woodland floor

3 knobs unsalted butter

8 shallot hearts

2 king oyster mushrooms, halved in the vertical plane

3 king oyster mushrooms, diced

2 turnips, peeled and diced

Rocket and watercress leaves

Sauté shallot hearts, diced mushrooms, 4 mushroom halves and turnips in the butter until they are nicely browned. Arrange the leaves and sautéed vegetable medley in the centre of the plate.

For the wagyu sirloin

3 tbsp vegetable oil

18 oz (1/2 Kg) wagyu sirloin, trimmed and cut into thick rectangular slices then seasoned with sea salt and black pepper

Place the oil into a skillet and sauté the beef slices under high heat for about 2 minutes each side ensuring a good seam of pink inside the cuts. Transfer the slices to a warm plate and let them rest for 10 minutes before plating out.

Constructing the dish

Layer the beef on the woodland floor as described above. Using a syringe or squeezy bottle, plate out the warm, sticky beef sauce around the perimeter of the dish. Carefully level the halved king oyster mushrooms so they can stand on their stems. Trim the bases if necessary.

 

 

 

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Filet de boeuf en croûte (Beef Wellington)



This extraordinarily sumptuous dish probably does not owe its name to the great Sir Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington of Napoleonic war fame. Perhaps it was a rare subversive attempt to Anglicise a French dish during that time. However one names it, it is a treat and makes for an indulgent Sunday lunch.

It  is essentially a piece of beef fillet wrapped in a pâté consisting variably of mushrooms, ground meat or foie gras. I have used ground Portobello mushrooms with a prosciutto wrap with an outer wrap of puff pastry. If you wish to make a version with smaller slices, then feel free to use Aberdeen Angus fillet. Feel free to use ready made puff pastry. 1 fillet feeds 6 – 8 people. It goes well with sauté potatoes and wilted kale. Serve this dish with a mature claret.

6 tbsp olive oil

14 oz (400 gms) Portobello mushrooms, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 whole beef fillet, surface-dried and seasoned

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

10 slices prosciutto ham

21 0z (600 gms) puff pastry

Plain flour to dust

2 egg yolks, beaten

Place the mushrooms in a food processor and blend with seasoning until it produces a coarse paste. Warm 2 tbsp the olive oil in a shallow pan and under a moderate heat, sauté the paste until the water content of the mushrooms has evaporated. In the meantime, prepare a rectangular sheet of cling film large enough to wrap around the beef fillet with a small amount of overlap. Lay the sheet out on a work surface then arrange the prosciutto slices in overlapping palisades so as to cover the cling film. Spoon out the seasoned mushroom paste onto the prosciutto slices and, using a spatula or palette knife, spread it evenly.

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In a separate heavy pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Sauté the beef fillet on all sides until it is browned all over. This will take about 10 minutes to complete. It is important not to overcook the fillet. Take the fillet out of the pan and place it in the centre of the layered cling film rectangle. Carefully wrap the cling film with its prosciutto and mushroom layers around the fillet and carefully place the overlap it at the base. Place the wrapped fillet on baking sheet and mould it into a neat roll shape. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to help it keep its shape.

 

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Preheat the oven to 360F/180C/GM6. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry into a 2 mm layer or perhaps the width of a thick coin. Take the beef out of the refrigerator and carefully remove the cling film. Place the wrapped fillet into the centre of the pastry and wrap it neatly. Carefully connect the seam of pastry in a neat line. Cut out excess areas of puff pastry. Shape the Wellington and place it seam down on a baking sheet. Brush the pastry all over with the egg yolk. Using a knife make regular scores in the pastry but do not penetrate the width of the pastry. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 320F/160C/GM3 and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Remove the Wellington and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

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Pork loin in mead

Roast loin of pork with mead reduction and honey roast vegetables



The origins of mead are truly ancient and is almost certainly one of the (if not the) oldest, of alcoholic beverages with archaeological evidence dating back at least 4000 years in China and 2000 years in Europe. It is essentially a wine formed from honey and is known for its sweetness, its medieval charm and its ruthless hangovers. The latter is unsurprising given the large number of complex sugars which in turn break down into skull-breaking complex ketones.

My inspiration for this dish came from my recent visit to Hampton Court Palace – a must visit for fans of Tudor and Jacobean history. The tourist restaurant served good food including a decent beef brisket. What caught my eye was the advertisement for the mead and honey cakes on sale as a specialty product. It was delicious. Honey mead and seeds made for a great combination.

Given the popularity of red wine, Madeira and port reductions, it did seem logical to try a mead version of this technique. What I found was that mead is quite a subtly flavoured drink and I needed larger starting volumes of the alcoholic beverage than I usually use. In fact I doubled it. The result was a silky smooth, creamy, honeyed jus that was difficult to stop dipping in the spoon for tastings prior to serving. This beautiful sauce compliments pork excellently. I hope you enjoy making it.

Each tenderloin serves 2 people comfortably.

For the sauce

1 rack of pork ribs, separated
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 mls) water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
10 black peppercorns
1/2 cup (125 mls) Madeira
1 cup (250 mls) Mead
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock/water
3 tbsp golden sultanas
1/2 cup (125 mls) double cream

Heat the oil in a stock pot and sauté the ribs until they brown. Deglaze with the water. Allow the pan to sizzle again then transfer the bones to a warm plate. Add the vegetables and peppercorns and continue cooking until they become caramelised. The water content of the vegetables will deglaze the pan. Deglaze for a third time with the Madeira. Once reduced to about a quarter, add the mead and reduce by 1/3. Add the chicken stock/water and simmer, frequently skimming impurities from the surface. Simmer for about 3 hours. Strain the liquid and reduce it in the pan by at least 1/2. Add the sultanans. Add the cream and reduce to the required consistency.

For the tenderloin

1 tenderloin of pork (for 2 people)
5 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to180C/350F/GM4. Season the tenderloin. In a large pan, sear the tenderloin on all its surfaces. Transfer the tenderloin to a baking sheet and then cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the tenderloin into thumb-width slices.

For the honey glazed vegetables

Carrots, peeled
Turnips, peeled
Heads of garlic, halved
Parsnips, peeled
salt and black pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp honey
5 sprigs rosemary

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/GM4. Place a baking tray with the oil into the oven. Boil the root vegetables in salted water for 5 minutes and drain. When dry, season them well with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the hot baking tray with oil from the oven and place it on a hob on a moderate heat. Sauté the vegetables in the hot oil. when slightly browned, transfer the vegetables to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tray of vegetables from the oven, coat them in the honey, add the rosemary and return them to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Arranging the dish

Plate out the tenderloin segments and the honey roasted vegetables with some grapes. Spoon out the mead reduction and serve.

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Guinea fowl in Madeira and sweet pear reduction



 

The Christmas meal should be a special occasion and is a great opportunity to lavish your guests with food and wine that would be reserved for special occasions. Goose is a very traditional British festive dinner meal although turkey has surpassed it in popularity. I have used guinea fowl and have enriched it with a creamy sweet pear flavoured Madeira reduction. This recipe serves four people. Merry Christmas!

For the Guinea fowl

2 whole, prepared guinea fowl cut into pieces, skin intact retaining carcass bones

1 .5 oz (50 gms) unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

2 turnips, chopped

1 leek, chopped

1 cup (250 mls) chopped mushrooms

10 black peppercorns

1 cup (250 mls) Madeira

1 cup (250 mls) pear juice

Sauté the carcass bones and the other guinea fowl pieces in the butter. As they brown, add the vegetables and peppercorns and stir until they begin to caramelise. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and reduce the liquid by half. Add the pear juice and close the lid. Cook on low for about an hour.

Garnishes

For the garnishes I have used par boiled and seasoned roast potatoes, Roasted onions and turnip and sautéed pear slices

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pumpkin parfait1

Pumpkin parfait with walnut ice cream, sweet black sesame sauce and walnut praline



The origins of the traditional Jack-o’-lantern have largely been lost in the midst of time and surprisingly they are relatively absent from literature. Vegetable carving is an ancient practice. In 17th century England and Scotland, turnips were carved into grotesque faces and, to resemble a will-o’-the-wisp, were illuminated from within to mimic the glowing lights seen across peat bogs – and with terrifying effect. Without doubt, the pumpkin has been imported from North America. It is larger and in some ways more versatile than the turnip for designing Jack-o’-lanterns. Its flavour is also versatile as a sweet or savoury dish. I hope you will agree the pumpkin is not just for halloween.

For the pumpkin parfait

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup (60 mls) caster sugar

14 oz (400mls) condensed milk

2 cups pumpkin flesh, simmered in water for 20 minutes and puréed

4 leaves of gelatine, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes

Set a glass mixing bowl above a boiling pan of water. Add the egg yolks and cream in the sugar. Gently add the condensed milk, mixing all the time. Be careful not to let the mixture  exceed 60C/140F else the yolks will split. Squeeze out water from the gelatine and add the softened gelatine to the mixture and stir. Sieve the contents into another container. Fill a pipe mould with the pumpkin mixture and refrigerate.

For the walnut ice cream

⅔ cup (180 mls) walnuts

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup (60 mls) caster sugar

1 cup (250 mls) double cream

1 cup (250 mls) milk

Soak the walnuts in cold water for an hour. Lift them out of the water and using a coffee grinder grind them into a smooth paste. Add some of the soaking water if necessary. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and cream them together, Bit by bit add the cream and milk then add the walnut paste. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze in a container.

For the sweet black sesame sauce

1/2 cup (125 mls) black sesame seeds, soaked in 1/2 cup (125 mls) water for 24 hours

1 tbsp honey

2 sheets leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes and squeeze-dried

2 tsp sesame oil

Warm the sesame seeds with the water in a pan and add the softened gelatine. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend. Sieve the mixture into a squeezey dispenser.

For the meringues

3 egg whites

5 oz (150 gms) caster sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartare

Prehaet an oven to 260F/130C. Using a clean mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to whip the egg whites. As they become white and glossy, continuing with the whisking process, add the sugar little by little then add the cream of tartare. Continue whisking until the mixture forms stiff peaks when lifted. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Transfer the mixture with a piping bag and plain spout attachment, pipe out small mounds of the mixture onto the parchment. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

For the walnut pralines

1/2 cup (125 mls) split walnuts

1/2 cup (125 mls) sugar

Place the walnuts and sugar in a pan and heat on a hob until the sugar has melted and the walnut halves coated. Allow to cool.

Plating the dish

Push out the parfait onto the plate from the pipe mould. Arrange the meringues, pralines and sesame sauce around the plate. I have used clotted cream and mint leaves for decoration. Finally add 2 quenelles of the walnut ice cream.

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9

Catalan Lamb Ballotine



 

The numerous swine farms of Catalonia make this region the main source of pork in Spain. Not surprisingly, the menu in Rousillon, the historic capital of the region is replete with pork-based dishes. Although a principality of France, some major influences are Spanish and Arab. Globe artichokes are popular in the region and indeed I would have loved to use baby versions of them in this dish. Without a doubt the dish can be enjoyed more in the Belle Époque setting of Perpignan, the city where Gaulish chieftains met to consider Hannibal’s request for a conference.

The dish combines the wonderful flavours of lemon, rosemary, aniseed and honey. It works well as a spectacular Sunday lunch. One large lamb shoulder will feed 5 – 6 people. It is absolutely imperative that you use lamb of excellent quality or the texture of the shoulder will be wrong. Most supermarket acquired lamb will not suffice for this dish.

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Prepare the lamb shoulder

Flatten one large shoulder of lamb using a rolling pin. Flatten it into a rectangular shape and if necessary, trim the edges

For the stuffing

4 oz (120 gms) finely diced lamb (use excess lamb from the shoulder trimmings)

4 oz (120 gms) chopped streaky bacon

1 oz (25 gms) chopped almonds

leaves of 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp grated lemon peel

1 slice of fried bread

Ground black pepper to season

Combine all the ingredients into a food processor and process for a short time until the mixture forms a course paste. You do not want the stuffing paste to be too smooth.

For the lamb ballotine

Fill the centre of the lamb with the stuffing. Carefully roll the shoulder and sew the edges together to form a cylinder. Don’t make the ballotine too tight else it will burst as it is being cooked.

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Completing the dish

12 new potatoes, peeled and boiled in salty water for 5 minutes

6 small apples, peeled and cored

6 small pears, peeled and cored

6 apricots, peeled and stoned

6 peaches, peeled and stoned

6 figs

Heat 6 tbsp olive oil in a large casserole pan. Gently place the lamb ballotine into the hot oil and brown the skin all over, rotating the ballotine gently. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 60 minutes. Add the part boiled potatoes, gently stir the potatoes around the lamb, close the casserole lid and cook for a further 15 minutes. After a further 10 minutes, add all the rest of the ingredients and close the lid. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Place the ballotine on a serving platter and display the fruits around it. Serve the ballotine as slices.

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Pan seared loin of venison on wilted kale with sweet red vermouth reduction, parsnip purée and roasted garlic



Autumnal food is so exciting. There’s so many warming foods available at this time of year to adorn the plate and tantalise the senses. Red vermouth is not only a beautiful cocktail mixer but also a fabulous basis for sauce reductions using juices from the meat. Root vegetables are definitely on the menu at this time of year. The creamy parsnip purée could easily be substituted with celeriac. Kale, chard, thyme and watercress give the dish colour and balance.

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