“Ooh, beef and beer!” – my initial reaction to the announcement of the IFBA and Bord Bia’s amazing From Plate To Page competition
Most of my beef-cooking adventures these days involve beer, and stout in particular. There are now myriad Irish craft stouts to rival (and surpass) the G-word, from Hilden’s Molly’s Chocolate Stout in the north to Franciscan Well’s Shandon Stout in the south. One of my favourite discoveries of late, though – and, happily, one available in bottle form – is O’Hara’s Leann Folláin from the Carlow Brewing Company. At 6% ABV, it packs quite the punch, with lovely treacle, coffee and cocoa flavours. I reckoned it would be a fair match for some aged Kildare fillet steak (from the brilliantly-staffed meat counter at Fallon & Byrne), and so on went the thinking cap.
A quick rummage in my Home Organics stash yielded some lovely red onions and Wicklow Charlotte spuds, so I settled upon the idea of a boozy red onion gravy, and creamy mash. And, with thoughts of spring in my mind, I picked up some Bretzel Bakery bread and Rush herbs, again from Fallon & Byrne, to make a fresh herby stuffing for the steak.
Having never made red onion gravy from scratch, I turned to the mighty internet for advice, and came up trumps with this Rachael Ray recipe. I’ve tweaked the quantities and ingredients somewhat, though, and omitted the Worcestershire sauce so as not to take away from the flavours of the Leann Folláin.
Herby stuffed fillet steak with O’Hara’s red onion gravy and creamy mash
Ingredients for two servings:
320g good-quality fillet steak (about a 10cm-long piece)
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
For the stuffing:
a sprig of parsley
a small sprig of thyme
2 sage leaves
a sprig of tarragon
a good thick slice of stale white bread
30g butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
For the gravy (adapted from Rachael Ray):
2 red onions
125ml O’Hara’s Leann Folláin extra stout
125ml beef stock (I used a Knorr Rich Beef stock pot)
For the mash:
a splash of milk or cream
a knob of butter
salt and black pepper to taste
What to do:
First, place a baking tray in the oven and preheat as hot as it will go. (The dial on my fan oven goes to around 275 C.)
Melt 25g butter in a middling-sized pot. Slice the red onions and add to the pot, stirring well to coat the slices in the melted butter. Cover the pot and leave the onions to sweat over a medium heat for around twenty minutes until very soft.
While the onions are sweating, place the herbs and bread in a food processor. Whizz together until you have a lovely green breadcrumb mixture. Add the melted butter and stir through the crumbs. Season to taste.
To stuff the steak, take a long thin knife and pierce lengthways through the centre of the meat, creating a tunnel. Twist the knife gently to open up the cavity a little. Poke the stuffing through the centre of the meat, a small amount at a time.
Remove the baking tray from the hot oven and add a tiny glug of olive oil to it before placing the steak on top. Pat another wee bit of oil along the surface of the meat and place in the middle of the oven for twenty minutes.
At this stage, your onions should be nicely cooked and ready for some beer. Firstly, add a tablespoon of flour to the pot and allow it to cook out for a minute. Then add in the stock and beer, and stir well. Turn the heat down and leave the gravy to thicken up for another fifteen minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
For the mash, boil the spuds in salted water until just about tender. Drain and return to the heat for a couple of minutes to dry them out before mashing thoroughly with the butter, milk or cream, salt and plenty of black pepper.
Once the meat has cooked, leave to rest for five minutes. Slice and serve with lots of the gravy poured over, and the mash on the side.