Ask Peter: Sauce with beef
Can you give me some ideas of knock-out sauces to serve with a beef fillet? When I am serving it simply with steamed greens and potatoes, I would like to add some wow factor with the sauce but am unsure if you are supposed to go mild on the flavour so as not to overshadow the meat or whether you can go all out. Tessa
I don’t think you need worry too much about which flavours will mask good beef fillet. If you look at the world’s various cuisines’ approach to beef, it looks as though almost anything will do. I’m sure the French would be horrified to think of serving beef with a dressing made from raw garlic, dried oregano, vinegar and chilli flakes, yet the Argentinians wouldn’t ever serve their beef without their national sauce —chimichurri.
I’ve had beef served with a delicious coffee jus that had been warmed though with sliced morel mushrooms, and I’ve had beef served with mustard cream sauce. What is interesting though, is what else you’re serving with it.
The thought of serving steamed greens and potatoes with a rich coffee sauce doesn’t sound at all appealing — although the chimichurri sauce would go well with them.
A creamy mustard sauce might be great with the potatoes, but I’m not sure I’d want it with green beans and broccoli.
A rich beef jus, a much reduced stock, would be lovely with the spuds, especially if you whisked some unsalted butter into it along with a little horseradish, but it would, again, overpower the greens.
Here are a few things you might want to try, which cover a lot of the flavour spectrum and various cuisines.
½ bunch flat parsley, pick the leaves, discard the stalks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
200ml extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch coriander, on the stalk, shredded including the stalks
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 shallots (or 1 banana shallot), peeled and finely diced
This will make more than you need but it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. You can make it using a mortar and pestle or use a food processor. Place the parsley, garlic, both oreganos and chilli flakes in a small food processor with half the oil and pulse blitz to a coarse paste. Add the coriander and vinegar and blitz briefly to incorporate. Tip into a bowl and mix in the shallots and remaining oil, then season with flaky sea salt.
Creamy mustard sauce
If you cook the fillet in a pan or roasting dish you can use the juices to your advantage. If you cook it then rest it, the juices that come out when sliced can be used as well. Saute a thinly sliced shallot or ½ white fleshed onion in 1 tsp butter till just beginning to caramelise. Add pan juices. Add 2 Tbsp grain mustard and 1 tsp hot English mustard. Mix well then add 1 cup double cream and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring often, until nice and sauce-like. Season.
Miso mushroom sauce
Saute 1 large red onion, diced, in 1 tsp sesame oil until caramelised. Add 150g thinly sliced mushrooms (portobello work well, although a mix of those and shiitake are even better) and cook until they collapse. Whisk 2 tablespoons miso paste into 1 cup warmed meat jus and when you have removed the lumps, add to the mushrooms. Place a lid on the pan and cook 15 minutes over low/medium heat. Taste for seasoning and serve.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.