Saturday, September 17

Fillet Steak, Horseradish Mash, Red Wine Jus

Sometimes it is the simple things done well that give the greatest pleasure. Fine ingredients, cooked properly with little messing about - that is the essence of this dish. I have covered the cooking of steak in a previous blog so I am going to focus on the perfect mash and the sauce accompaniment. Red wine jus (RWJ) is a time consuming sauce to make....but what a sauce. In essence RWJ is a reduction of good meat stock and wine to a thick, syrupy consistency. It is powerfully flavoured and will work well with any red meat, a small spoonful added to casseroles or braises will deepen the flavour no end.

Commercial kitchens will buy in boxes of bones to make the weekly stocks. It is harmonious to use veal bones to make stocks for beef, chicken for chicken etc but for domestic purposes, I suggest you save up a load of chicken, pork and beef bones and freeze until you have a stock pot full.  A mixture of bones in the stock makes no great difference to the flavour. Once you have finished your RWJ, it will set to a thick jelly in the fridge. Cut into cubes, cling-film, freeze and you will always have RWJ to hand when required.

Onions - 2 large, skin on and halved
Celery - 1/2 head, washed and cut into 3
Leek - 1 large, washed and cut in half lengthways 
Carrots - 4 large, skin on, halved lengthways
Bones - 2 kg or as many as will fit in your stock pot
Modest red wine - 1 bottle
Fillet Steak - 4 as large as you can afford (180g each is pretty standard)
Large maris piper potatoes - 750g peeled weight
Butter - 250g
Full fat milk - 100ml
Double Cream - 100ml
Fresh horseraddish - 100g, peeled and finely grated
Salt, White and Black Pepper

Set your oven to as high as it will go. Roast the bones and the vegetables (not the spuds!) until they are a deep golden brown. Transfer to a deep stock pot leaving as much oil as possible behind in the oven tray. Drain the oil from the oven tray, add a little water and scrape off any bits in the tray as best as possible. Loads of flavour in those little bits....add the water to the stock pot. Fill your stock pot with water to just cover the bones and bring to the boil. Skim any scum that rises then set to a very low simmer, the water should barely tremble. This low simmer will result in a clear finish to your stock, a rolling boil will emulsify the fat into the stock and give a cloudy fatty end result so control your cooking heat. Also the more you skim - oil and scum - the clearer your stock. Leave to simmer all day skimming regularly, cover and leave to cool overnight. In the morning remove the bones and vegetables as gently as you can with a slotted spoon. Pass the stock through a fine sieve lined with a jey cloth then return to a cleaned stock pot. Now you can boil the stock hard, reduce by 2/3 then add the wine. Keep boiling and skimming until you reach a point where the sauce looks syrupy. The thickness of your jus is personal taste but I think it looks best on the plate when it resembles warm honey. Spoon a bit onto a plate to test - too thick add a little water, too thin, reduce some more. Transfer to a small container, cool and fridge it.

For the mash, cut the potatoes in half if very large, otherwise cook whole in salted boiling water until very tender but not falling apart. Drain and allow to steam in a colander until dry but still warm. Push through a sieve using the back of a spoon to make super smooth mash. Heat the butter and cream until hot but not boiling. Mix into the mash and season heavily with salt and white pepper. Depending on how  dry your spuds are you may need to add a little more milk to get the right consistency. You want the mash as soft as possible but not so soft that it cannot hold its shape. Add the horseradish, mix well and keep warm.

Fry your steak to your liking in lots of foaming butter and oil, finish in the oven and let the steak rest somewhere warm for at least 5 mins. Gently melt a little of the RWJ, it doesn't need to boil again.  Slice the steak and arrange on a big dollop of mash and drizzle the steak with the RWJ. I served mine with super sweet heritage carrots.  A bit of steamed kale would have been nice as well but I forgot to buy any!

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