Steak for Winter. With Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Celeriac Puree, Mashed Potatoes and a Vermouth Sauce

One day I will convince our new photographer extraordinaire to retake this photo, till then, this will have to do...
One day I will convince our new photographer extraordinaire to retake this photo, till then, this will have to do…

This is a very solid dish. There’s nothing here that will become a taste revelation/revolution. Everything here you’ve probably tasted before, however, when all are executed properly, it can become a real classic. To me, nothing quite beats a well cooked piece of meat, and with the marinade shown below and some attention during cooking, your steak can go from very good to exceptional. The dish is bound together with the sauce, a thick velvety meaty dream that brings it all round. Although there are no difficult techniques here, the very number of components make cooking it a challenge, especially if you’re looking to serve it plated and in multiple servings, but it’s a lot of fun to make! Below is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy cooking and eating this as much as I did.

All quantities here are meant for a 4 person serving.

For the steak:

4 x 250-300g of tenderloin steaks

It’s best to marinate the steaks about 6 hours before cooking. Keep them in the fridge, but make sure to take them out at least half an hour before cooking to bring them up to room temperature. Use the marinade here.

While the steak is marinating, you can get a start on the other components.

For the Celeriac puree:

1/2 a large celery root, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 garlic cloves, peeled

About 2 cups of full cream milk

1 tbsp of butter

pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the celeriac and garlic in a pot and pour in enough milk to just cover them (about 2 cups, use more or less if necessary) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep on cooking until the celery root becomes completely tender (about 25mins). Strain celeriac out and reserve the milk on the side, return the celery to the pot and add some milk just to wet it, along with the butter and nutmeg. Using a stick blender, puree the mix, add more milk if necessary to loosen up a bit if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, reheat just before service, add more milk if it becomes too dry.

For the mashed potatoes:

2 large potatoes over 200g each, peeled and cut into smallish slices

1 tbsp butter

1/4 cup of double cream

1/3 cup of whole cream milk

salt and pepper to taste

I find that the most important thing about mashed potatoes is making sure that the texture is just right. They need to be pureed to perfection; velvety and not too wet. Finding the right balance is very important. Place the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and cook until very tender, at least 15mins but greatly depends on the size of the cut potato pieces, test them out with a spoon, if a spoon can break the pieces apart with little resistance, then they’re ready. Drain the water out using a colander and then mash the potatoes. I find the best results are when I use a traditional masher in the pot and then pass the potatoes through a sieve, however, a vegetable mill or potato ricer should do the same thing. Once the potatoes are mashed, return them to the pot and add the butter, cream and adjust the consistency using the milk. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, and reheat before service.

For the sweet potato cubes:

2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut evenly into 1cm cubes

1 tsp of caster sugar

Drizzle of olive oil

1 tsp of dry rosemary

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat the oven to 200C with fan, in a bowl place the sweet potato cubes, drizzle the olive oil (just enough for all cubes to get evenly coated) and add the sugar, rosemary, salt and pepper (be heavy handed with the salt to balance the sugar). Mix everything together by hand and then lay out on a baking tray and into the oven. Cook until they start to caramelise (about 15-20min). You will want them to be cooked through but still have a bit of bite to them. Once cooked, remove from the oven. If you want to reheat them, just toss them for about 30s on a hot hot pan with a bit more olive oil.

For the sauce:

This sauce is really spectacular, and is based on the Marco Pierre White recipe found here.

1/2 carcass of a chicken

1 carrot cut into chuncks

1 1/2 celery sticks cut into chunks

200g of mushrooms sliced

4 shallots sliced

1/4 head of garlic sliced through the middle

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of thyme

1 tbsp of sherry vinegar (or grape vinegar)

1/4 cup of cognac or brandy

1/2 cup of vermouth

1/2 cup of red wine

1/4 cup of dry white wine

1/2 cup of beef stock

1 cup of water

1 1/2 tbsp of roux

In a very large pan, over a medium high heat add some olive oil and place the chicken, celery, carrots until they start to caramelise (about 8min) stirring occasionally, then add the garlic, onions and mushrooms, allow them to cook for 3-4 mins until they soften but don’t burn, lower the heat and add the herbs. De-glaze the pan with the vinegar then the brandy (raise the heat again) and then add the wines and vermouth and allow to reduce to a syrupy consistency. Add the stock and the water and lower the heat a bit and allow it all to cook for another 15-20 minutes, until you no longer taste the alcohol. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve a couple of times to try and remove the impurities, then add back to a clean pan. Reheat before serving, whisking in the roux and a teaspoon of butter right before plating.

Now you’re ready to cook you steak; scrape off the marinate using a spoon and then a dry kitchen towel. On a pan with some olive oil over a high heat (pan needs to be really hot), place the steaks and cook for about 3 (maybe 4 if they’re still not caramelised well on the bottom) minutes. Turn the steaks over and add a knob of butter to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes. Using your fingers and this guide, check the done-ness of the steak, but 7 minutes overall should be ample for medium rare on a 2-2.5cm thick steak. Remember to let the steak rest for at least half the cooking time. If you want the steak a bit more cooked than medium rare, place in a preheated oven to 180C for 5-6 minutes, should take you all the way to medium well. Remember that resting the steak is paramount to its success.

Now you’re ready to dig in and enjoy!

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