Beef Royal (1723), Third Course
Specialty Equipment: water bath, digital thermometer, steamer, thermomix, pressure cooker
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F
Dish as in The Fat Duck (can’t find any photos of the dish as served in The Fat Duck):
Last week I had to cook a meal for family. For the main course I bought a big piece (2kg) of Côte de Boeuf and at home started working on it. While scraping the meat from the bones I realized the cap surrounding the eye of the meat was probably the spinalis dorsi, the cut of meat needed for the third course of the Beef Royal recipe. So with the purchase of the meat I, unknowingly, killed two birds with one stone. I’m not sure if the spinalis dorsi runs along the entire rib eye or is limited to a section of the entire rib.
When I detached the spinalis dorsi from the rest meat it didn’t have the best of shapes, serving wise, so I put it in a cardboard box and vacuum packed it. After a few hours the piece was straightened out.
The sauce of the dish is made from a stock requiring tons of beef. Shin of beef, oxtail and beef bones are the main components. I’ll happily oblige to the instructions of the recipe, but like the Jelly of Quail, I felt funny using pieces of meat just for a stock. When I make stock I always do it from scraps and bones and never buy a selection of meats.
The stock is made in a similar fashion to other recipes. The meat first has to be browned, then onions and carrots have to be cooked with star anise (to boost the meaty flavors) until lightly caramelized and everything is cooked in a pressure cooker for 2 hours. My pressure cooker is not on the small side, but I still had to cook the stock in two batches to accommodate every last piece of meat and bone.
Reducing the stock to a sauce consistency. For some reason I can’t get a clear stock from the pressure cooker, no matter how hard I try to regulate the heat. A stock could be as clear as if you would use the traditional open pan stock method, because the fluid in a pressure cooker can reach a temperature above 100˚C, but can do this without coming to the boil.
One of the streaks on the plate is mushroom ketchup, a fluid gel made from the liquid of Paris Brown mushrooms (I used the regular brown button mushrooms. Are these called Paris Brown?). It is made by pureeing mushroom with salt and letting everything hang in a double layer of muslin for 24 hours. I think that in the Perfect Steak episode of In Search of Perfection Heston explains the oldest recipe for ketchup is on a mushroom base. It makes sense, because from what I’ve learned from the ISOP episodes ketchup is full of umami, the stuff that boosts meatiness. In Japan dried mushrooms, mostly shiitakes, are used from their umami impact, so a ketchup from mushrooms is actually not way out there.
To give the meat a crunch, it is not pan-fried after coming out of the water bath, it is coated with crumbs of beef crackers, fried panko and fried, braised short-ribs. The crackers are made like the ones from the Ballotine of Pigeon. They have to be cut in 4mm slices, but with this thickness they don’t puff up and don’t become crunchy in the centre. Don’t know if this is how it should be or they are better cut a little thinner. The short-ribs are leftovers from the Second Course. I don’t like omissions, but the short-ribs are a five day project, so I couldn’t make them real quick in advance of making the Second Course.
Finishing the crumbly mixture with parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil.
The mushroom ketchup is garnished by fried pieces of marrowbone. You have to soak the marrowbones for 24 hours in several changes of fresh water and then cut them into cubes.
The second garnish of the mushroom ketchup are quartered, browned, small button mushrooms.
Below the streak of mushroom ketchup lies an onion fluid gel, a fluid gel from onion flavored milk. Thé onion fluid gel. It’s amazing. I’ve made it numerous times after spotting it in the lamb recipe. If you make one thing from the book let it be this stuff.
With the onion fluid gel done everything was ready for the final plating. I cooked the meat in a 56˚C water bath to 56˚C, let it rest for 10 minutes at 50˚C (by adding cold water to the rice cooker), heated the purees and mushrooms, fried the marrow bones and picked chervil leaves. In the book the spinalis dorsi does not look to be cut in half, so to simulate the appearance of one piece of meat I sliced it in half, but not all the way through (sort of butterflying it). I once saw a video of Sergio Herman, the chef of 3 Michelin star restaurant Oud Sluis, do this to a pigeon breast and it is a handy technique to present a piece of meat, and simulate of sort of transglutaminase treatment.
What can go wrong with a good sauce, ditto piece of meat and an onion fluid gel? Absolutely nothing. The real star, next to the meat, was the mushroom ketchup. It works really well with the meat and it not something you ever come across. I’ve never been to a restaurant and asked what something was and received the answer: ‘That is a mushroom ketchup, sir. Made by continuously breaking up a gel made from mushroom water and gellan F.’
One course to go and Beef Royal (1723) is done.