Cuisine - - PREVIEW -

When you open a restau­rant you have to ask your­self: what do peo­ple like to eat? The an­swer is steak, par­tic­u­larly a fan­tas­tic, well-cooked, per­fectly sea­soned one with a pep­per­corn crust. At least that’s what I think they like be­cause it’s one of the things I love.

So for the restau­rant we of­ten of­fered a filet mignon, drenched in creamy Co­gnac sauce and served with the crispi­est home-made potato crisps. In other words, we put my the­ory to the test. Al­most every­body or­dered it – and when they re­turned they were dis­ap­pointed if it wasn’t on the menu. In a world of no sure bets, this is the ex­cep­tion.


4 x 125g-230g beef filets mignons (eye fil­lets) 4 ta­ble­spoons veg­etable oil ¼ cup (60ml) co­gnac ½ cup (120ml) beef stock 4 ta­ble­spoons (60g) un­salted but­ter, cut into pieces ½ cup (120ml) crème fraîche

Gen­er­ously sea­son the steaks with coarse sea salt and enough coarsely ground black pep­per to cover en­tirely. Press the sea­son­ings in with your hands if nec­es­sary.

Work­ing in two batches, heat a large fry­ing pan (skil­let), prefer­ably cast iron, over a high heat un­til it’s very hot. Add 2 ta­ble­spoons of the oil and sear the steaks over a medi­umhigh heat un­til well browned and medium-rare in the cen­tre, about 2 min­utes per side.

Re­peat with the re­main­ing steaks and oil. Set aside on a warm plate to rest while you make the sauce.

Pour off any ex­cess oil from the fry­ing pan (leave as much pep­per as pos­si­ble) and re­duce the heat to medium. Pour in the co­gnac and sim­mer to re­duce by at least half, 2 to 3 min­utes. Add the beef stock and sim­mer gen­tly un­til slightly re­duced, about 3 min­utes.

Swirl in the but­ter, piece by piece; as the but­ter melts and is in­cor­po­rated, the sauce should start to thicken. Stir in the crème fraîche and con­tinue to heat un­til hot. Do not boil. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, it’s ready.

Re­turn the steaks to the pan, along with any ac­cu­mu­lated juices, and turn the steaks over in the hot sauce to coat.

Trans­fer the steaks and sauce to a serv­ing dish or plates and serve im­me­di­ately with gar­lic potato crisps.


450 g po­ta­toes 2 cups (475ml) ren­dered duck fat fleur de sel or flaky sea salt 3 gar­lic cloves, thinly sliced

Peel the po­ta­toes, then slice them as thinly as pos­si­ble with a man­do­line. Soak the po­ta­toes in a bowl of cold wa­ter for 3 min­utes. Drain and pat dry. Wrap in a clean tea towel and set aside.

In a large pan, heat the duck fat over a medium heat to 160°C. Test the tem­per­a­ture of the duck fat by drop­ping in a small piece of potato. If the potato turns golden within sec­onds, the fat is ready.

Work­ing in batches, fry the potato slices, turn­ing once, un­til golden and crisp, 2 to 3 min­utes. Re­move with a slot­ted spoon, drain on pa­per tow­els, and sea­son with fleur de sel or flaky sea salt.

Fry the gar­lic slices for a minute (they cook very quickly) and scat­ter over the crisps. Serve im­me­di­ately.

WINE A pep­pery New Zealand syrah. Try the Church Road McDon­ald Se­ries Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2013.

This is an edited ex­tract from French Coun­try Cook­ing by Mimi Tho­ris­son, pub­lished by Hardie Grant, RRP $49.99. Pho­tog­ra­phy: © Od­dur Tho­ris­son 2016

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