Very lit­tle beats fil­let cooked with Brie


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODEATING - TONY JACK­MAN

AH, THE French. Can’t live with them, can’t live with­out them. The French en­hance a so­phis­ti­cated, well-lived life in so many ways. Not only in the ob­vi­ous mer­its of fine wine and some of the planet’s great­est recipes. Not only for the style of Gal­lic fash­ion or the mag­nif­i­cence of their ar­chi­tec­ture.

The French give us many other things. Their movie industry is among the best in the world. They boast one of the world’s great­est cap­i­tal ci­ties in Paris. As for the restau­rant, that space where we spend our pre­cious times and in all like­li­hood far too much money, there has been no greater in­flu­ence on res­tau­rants and the cul­ture of eat­ing in the world, with the ar­guable ex­cep­tion of Italy.

Yet who has not vis­ited France and walked into a depart­ment store or a bou­tique and been given the cool Gal­lic down-the-nose stare or the gruff re­sponse when ask­ing the price of some­thing?

Any­way, give me a lovely bot­tle of Bur­gundy or a sin­ful round of stinky Brie, and I’ll tell you how won­der­ful I think the French are when they aren’t be­ing aloof. I bought some French Brie only this week. Deeply flavour­ful, quite un­like the pal­lid ver­sions we seem to make in South Africa.

I had been plan­ning to write about beef fil­let this week, and in­deed that is what I cooked, but it was the Brie that was the ob­ject of de­sire in this dish. My se­lec­tion was supremely soft with that oozy, not quite runny, tex­ture that is per­fect for Brie or Camem­bert. I had al­ready de­cided to grill beef fil­let steaks, and fan­cied top­ping each with a big, fat mush­room which in turn would be topped with some kind of cheese, and fin­ished un­der the grill. Then I spot­ted a lovely round of French Brie at my lo­cal Cradock su­per­mar­ket and de­cided to cut it through the mid­dle. There had to be gar­lic in there, ob­vi­ously, and then I popped into my herb gar­den and was about to pick pars­ley when I re­mem­bered the sage.

In the end, the com­bi­na­tion of a pan-fried mush­room with chopped gar­lic, a gen­er­ous round of Brie and a scat­ter­ing of chopped sage leaves was the best stuffed mush­room I re­mem­ber eat­ing.

The trick with mush­rooms is never serve them raw. First fry them off in olive oil, on both sides, but be­fore do­ing that, care­fully cut away the stems and fry those along­side. Sea­son the mush­rooms on both sides with salt and pep­per, then put them on a rack over an oven dish. Scat­ter finely chopped gar­lic over, place a round of Brie on top to fit edge to edge, and scat­ter chopped sage leaves on top. Cook them on the low­est rung of the oven be­low the hot grill. They will heat through as the cheese melts.

Most of the above can be done be­fore you fry the steaks. I used my ridged grid­dle pan, in which I melted but­ter, to which I added more sage and cooked the steaks on a mod­er­ate heat, spoon­ing over the sage but­ter ev­ery now and then, and turn­ing as needed. Judge cook­ing ac­cord­ing to your own taste. Sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per.

On the plate went a steak, topped by a Brie- cheesy mush­room. Deglaze the steak pan with dry red wine and a splash of whisky, and into it stir a ta­ble­spoon or three of creme fraiche. Serve with juli­enne cour­gettes cooked sim­ply in olive oil with gar­lic and salt and pep­per.

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