Monday, 24 September 2007

Fillet of Little Dexter

Talking to Lorna and Richard on Saturday night, I mentioned the bœuf en croûte I was planning for Sunday, and rather cheekily, Lorna invited herself and Richard to my Sunday dinner. Actually I was quite happy with that as it is rather sad going to all that trouble and not sharing it with anyone. They agreed they'd bring something for Richard to eat, so that was OK. I phoned Jane and she agreed to come too, so there were four of us.

Cooking the meat was slightly more of a challenge than it needed to be, since you're supposed to use the thick end of the fillet, but Cruickshank sold me the last bit he had, which was thin end. For those who don't know, you roast the meat first, until it's almost done, then let it cool, and finally layer it with pre-fried mushrooms and onions inside a wrapping of puff pastry. Since the pastry takes half an hour to cook, that's just long enough to get the meat back up to serving temperature without actually cooking it any more.

Problem: thin end fillet is going to cook more quickly than thick, so I can't just go by the times in the recipe. Answer: visit Merlin Mica Hardware in Royston and buy a meat thermometer. I roasted it until it was just shy of 60° C in the middle, then let it cool before wrapping it up.

Next problem: I used frozen puff pastry from a pack we'd used half of 6 months ago, and when I tried to roll it out it was dry and fragile. It hadn't occurred to us to stick it in a poly bag when we put it back in the freezer, and it had simply dried out somewhat. Fortunately I was able to use it, as by then all the shops had shut, else it would have been bœuf en croûte without the croûte.

I did a Delia Smith favourite for starter - compôte of garlic and sweet peppers, which was pretty good, but I had forgotten just how much it cooks down, so we had about a tablespoonful each. Silly, as there was another red pepper in the fridge which I could have used. Well if you invite yourself for dinner, I guess you take your chances!

And the beef was just stonking. An absolute killer. Definitely worth the hassle of driving out to Comberton to buy it. I'd cooked far too many roast potatoes, all of which vanished, and a big pile of purple cauliflower ditto. Then a goodly portion of fruit salad disappeared too. You know you've done OK when there's not much left over, and I felt dead smug. Still do, as a matter of fact.

Both Richard and Jane had an early start, so they all disappeared about 10.30 and after clearing up, I settled down to watch some Aubrey Manning (Earth Story is a 10 year old documentary about the geology of the earth which I can watch forever).

And woke up at 2 am. Fire out, DVD stopped, cat out galavanting, whatever. Didn't feel too great this morning, of course, though I didn't think I'd been too reckless. Dirty glass, I reckon.


ArcticFox said...

Sounds like a good meal. You put a lot of effort in, and of course the proof of the pudding, the main course and the starter were all in the eating.

I'd have settled for the en croute bit without the beef.... soya bean en croute or something.... perhaps a piece of fish.... but everything else sounds good too!! You can of course NEVER cook too many roasts!!


Rob Clack said...

Oh no no no! The beef was the very centrepiece of the meal. I especially went out of my way to get a proper beef breed from a local farm, and the flavour reflected that. Definitely worth it. Mind you, I am a carnivore, and it sounds like you're not. Fish, OK, that's acceptable. We do a rather nice salmon en croute. However, beans is just the living end. No thank you! God, whatever next? Spinach? Nettles? Dandelions?

OK, I'll relent a little here (it is late!) Have you tried day lily flowers in your salad? Not kidding. I recommend them.