I was watching ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ the other day. MasterChef is bad enough in terms of the sheer terror those poor contestants go through, but being on the show and being a professional chef as well is even worse.
Having the likes of Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg ‘that’s a lovely plate of food’ Wallace tell the head chef of a gastropub in Hampstead Heath that his ‘Pan-fried Duck with Distressed Carrot Salad on a Bed of Infused Cherry Curds with Cognac Reduction’ looks like road kill could do more than dent a bit of pride.
One of the meals prepared was ‘Lamb three ways’. The chef did Shepard’s Pie (in a mini saucepan), a kind of lamb meatball thing (can’t remember exactly what it was) and lamb leg loin. It looked good to me but the judges were harsh and said it didn’t taste of anything much. Of course us viewers wouldn’t know, we just stare at the food whilst munching on nuts and sipping a glass of wine thinking ‘I wish I was eating that rather than these crappy nuts’.
So I decided to do something like what I’d seen. You know ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’. I opted for ‘Cottage Pie with Seared Fillet in a Madeira Sauce, Parsnip Puree Croquettes and Horseradish Cream’. Or ‘Beef, Two Ways’.
As you can see there are five elements to this dish. However it’s straightforward…
For the Cottage Pie
- Half an oxtail, cut into pieces
- 1 large parsnip, 2 carrots and 2 onions roughly chopped
- Some fresh herbs (I had rosemary to hand so used that)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp oil
- Knob butter
- Parsnip Puree (see below)
For the Fillet
- 1 fillet for each person. Big ones, thick cut. None of this tail end, scrag end business.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Large knob of butter
For the Parsnip Puree Croquettes
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp crème fraiche
- An inch-long piece of fresh horseradish, grated
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Oil, for frying
For the horseradish cream
- 2 inch piece of horseradish cream
- 100 mls double cream, lightly whipped
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp hot mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pint beef stock
- 250 mls madeira
- 100mls red wine
- 2 egg whites
Begin with the oxtail. Heat the oven to 150 centigrade. Take a Dutch oven and heat the oil and butter. Fry the oxtail in batches until browned on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside. Drop in the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, scrapping the sticky bits off the bottom of the pot.
Add the oxtail back and season well. Pour in the water and cook for two hours in the oven. Add the herbs for the last half hour and top up with water if necessary.
Once tender, remove the oxtail with a slotted spoon. Pour the remaining contents into a jug. Put in the freezer and leave until the fat solidifies so it can be removed. Pull the meat off the bone and set aside.
Next start the croquettes.
Pour the oil on a baking tray. Coat the parsnips in the oil and then drizzle on the honey. Roast in the oven at 180 centigrade for 20 mins or until soft and just catching at the edges. Boil the potatoes until soft and then drain well.
Put the potatoes and parsnips in the pan, add the crème fraiche and horseradish and mash. Then cream with a hand blender. Put in a bowl and leave in the fridge to chill.
About half an hour before serving, coat the fillet in oil and bring to room temperature.
Remove the parsnip puree from the fridge. Take three bowls or plates. Put flour in one, beaten egg in one and breadcrumbs in the last. Using a spoons and/or your hands take a dollop of the chilled puree and form it into a small sausage.
Coat in flour, roll in the egg and lastly the breadcrumbs. Wash your hands after completing each one or you end up with fingers that have more coating than the croquettes.
Put them on a baking tray and return to the fridge to chill. Make sure you have about 4 tbsp of puree left for the mini cottage pies!
Make the horseradish by combining the ingredients (don’t forget to whip the cream, but not too much). Chill in the fridge.
Horseradish. Like a parsnip. A bit.
Back to the sauce. Remove the fat from the stock and put in a pan. Bring to a simmer and add the wine and madeira. Simmer for 20 minutes. Halfway through add the egg white and leave for a few mins. Drain the liquid through a sieve to remove the egg white and return to the heat. Reduce to about a third. Pour into a jug.
Once you are ready to serve, heat the oil in a large saucepan until a piece of bread turns golden when placed in the oil for about 30 seconds.
Carefully place two or three croquettes in the oil for a minute or two until golden. Remove and leave to drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm in the oven.
Heat a skillet so that it is smoking. Fry the steak for 3 or 4 minutes each side for medium rare (depends on thickness and size of the steak of course). Remove to a warm plate.
About halfway there…
Take a couple of food rings and place on a baking tray with baking paper. Stuff each ring two thirds up with the oxtail.
Drizzle with some of the sauce. Top with the remaining puree and grill for a couple of minutes.
To serve place a mini cottage pie on a warm plate. Arrange some of the croquettes next to it and steak alongside. Drizzle the sauce over the steak and finally a large dollop of the horseradish.