Swing low, sweet chariot….

Apart from beating the Frenchies on their home ground on Sunday, which was pretty sweet, there were a couple of other sweet moments at the Sunday lunch table. A less sweet moment was realising that the beef, which rarely graces our table, was overcooked thus making it play second fiddle to very good Yorkshire pudding, goose fat roast potatoes, fine vegetables and stonking jus which made my wife, a non meat eater, very happy. This 750gm piece of plat- côte was not the saignant delight that I had foreseen even after the briefest 15minutes in a hot oven. There is only one person to blame in such a situation and that is the cook. I had read in Ripailles by Stéphane Reynaud that the piece of beef needed browning, on all sides in a pan, with shallots and unpeeled garlic followed by 5 minutes in a hot oven. Everything looked fine in the pan during the browning sequence. The shallots were golden as were the unpeeled cloves of garlic and the meat looked as though it had spent a holiday on Copacabana. O me of little faith (yes, I’m talking to myself) – if only I had paid heed all would have been well, but I doubted the master and instead of the seemingly insane 5 minute roasting, I took the executive decision to go for 15 minutes, maybe because rugby was on my mind, resulting in 10 minutes of overcooking. The trouble with not cooking meat regularly is that it’s  easy to forget the rules. If serving rare beef, the beef must be of the very best quality. The finished dish should be meltingly soft and full of flavour. Neither of these essential qualities were present in Sunday’s beef because I had not followed the first principle of quality when shopping. If I’d been buying leeks or radishes I would naturally have looked for the ideal examples of their genre for the dish I was preparing. But as I’m a stranger at the butcher’s shop, this estrangement entails accusing looks from the blood spattered carnivores behind the counter who know me for what I am. Having first been silently mocked for asking if one bleeding lump, which apparently would poach superbly,  would be good for roasting I was happy to settle for the boucher’s selection as long as it got me out of there, and the small joint certainly looked the part. The part of a dead cow that I was going to cook.I had more success with an apple and almond tart, which was to be one of two desserts.The other, an intense chocolate mousse from Patricia Wells “Bistro Cooking” also hit the spot. The two desserts worked out as I expected because I was in familiar territory choosing good apples, the best chocolate and making delicious pastry. The timings were good and there was no disappointment.

The moral is don’t be too sure of yourself if you’re not used to what your up against, which same advice I can happily shove down the throats of Les Bleus! On les a eu.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Apple and Almond tart, beef, Bistro, Chocolate Mousee, Digital photography, Food and Photography, Food photographer, photography course, Photography holiday, Roast beef, Stephane Reynaud, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Swing low, sweet chariot….

  1. Beautiful tart. Too bad about the roast. I wonder why he gave you that cut….

  2. Tandy says:

    All is forgiven, you made chocolate mousse!

  3. Mad Dog says:

    That’s a shame, about the beef. I seem to remember reading that larger joints of 4 – 5 plus roast much better than small ones. You are at a slight disadvantage in France, since the cuts of meat are different to those in England. The same is true in Spain and when I bought a large roasting joint there in November, I took an Argentinean chef with me, to be sure. My advise to anyone roasting beef is to give it less time than the books say and to wrap it up and let it rest for a while before serving.

    That chocolate mousse looks divine and reminds me of a delicious light and dark chocolate mousse that I used to eat in Mélange (Endell Street), sadly long gone to restaurant heaven…

  4. I love roast beef, having said that, even a perfectly cooked roast would play second fiddle to yorkshire pudding and du jus, in our house! better luck next time.

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    Oh, Roger. I’ve made the same mistake. “This can’t be right!” Um .. yes it can. It’s these situations when the true value of side dishes becomes apparent. Bless them!

  6. Vivre les Rosbifs!
    It was a great win, and a wonderful game.
    It’s really worth investing in a digital meat thermometer to get beef just how you like it, timings vary so much on the cut, the starting temperature, and the breed of cow, the only way you can be sure is to measure it. I pull mine at 50-55 deg C and it’s perfectly medium rare.
    Have a look at my plank roast sirloin for the best rosbif you’ve ever tasted.
    Cheers
    Marcus

  7. Michelle says:

    Too bad the butcher steered you wrong. But, while I adore Reynaud’s cookbooks (and that one is called “French Feasts” here), I have found them to be, shall we say, a better source of inspiration than of reliable recipes.

  8. argone says:

    I love your chocolate mousse shot !!

  9. Well, drats. But I gotta say those potatoes sounds amazing and that chocolate would help ease my pain.

  10. Well, at least you did beat the Frenchies on their own turf!

  11. The problem might lie with the photographer. Beef, when it has been roasted, continues to cook for some time when taken out of the oven. Some of the overcooking could have come while you delayed proceedings by lining up you shots and adjusting lighting and all those other things. I am not sure what the solution is here, and it certainly is not to photograph the meat after eating. Perhaps photograph your neighbor’s beef and eat your own?

  12. Roast potatoes in goose fat *are* a meal…who needs meat? 😉

  13. alex says:

    I didn’t realise you were almost vegetarian, but thinking about it I can see that your posts don’t usually have meat-themes. I love the sound of the goose fat roast potatoes and the yorkshire pudding – always the best part of the roast despite the meat!
    As a supporter of Wales, I shall say nothing about rugby (!!)

  14. Hmmm, I’m not sure I want to cook up any cow, now that I’ve read your description;) There’s always next time… just go for seconds on dessert! That looks sinfully sweet!

  15. ....RaeDi says:

    We eat meat here… as you know! But very little of the beef! The butcher does not know how to make friends… the intense chocolate mousse should have made up for the lost of the beef by far!

  16. Hope the win made up for the beff 😦 It´s the same here, you either have to buy half a cow or be happy with flash fry steak. My mum once bought me over a frozen joint of beef in her luggage! The desserts sound like they gave a spectacular end to the meal though.

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