The second cookbook in my challenge is the “Paul Bocuse Standard Cookbook”. Paul Bocuse is one of the big names in French cuisine, and this cookbook has it all. Everything but pictures, which is a good thing for me in this case. It’s more a reference book than a fancy and pretty cookbook. You’ll find any French classic and any basic you can think of – sauces, doughs, everything. A good French cookbook has always been my go-to place for a decent meal. I have made many of the classics, from Coq au Vin to Bouillabaisse to different desserts. So going for something classic French, which I haven’t made before, was already a challenge in itself. On top of that, Mick gave me the extra challenge of adding an ingredient I’ve never used before.
Reading through the index of recipes, I was immediately drawn to the Chateaubriand. The big chunk of filet steak. Now, I have made steak before, so I had to use something I’ve never done as a side dish. The recipe talks about pommes frites, so I wondered if I couldn’t just make them out of sweet potato, since I’ve never made anything with it before. A bit of research later, I found it’s not uncommon. So that’s what I was going to do – Chateaubriand with sauce and sweet potato frites. It usually comes one of the classic French sauces, like a Bérnaise, but here the tastes can vary so I am going to make something a bit more simple and fresh…
This time, I felt more comfortable with the recipe than the ones before – after all, I love cooking meat. I’ve just never made a piece that big! As always, I’ll take photos alongside cooking and then write up what I did afterwards.
600g piece of filet of beef
3 Sweet Potatoes
First up, I put the filet in oil, salt, pepper and paprika, for some extra taste. I like my meat rather on the rare side, so the times I am going to quote here will not be enough if you prefer your filet of beef medium or well done. Then you’re going to need to add a few minutes on the frying side or later in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 220C. Knowing the meat would probably be quicker, I decided to start with the sweet potato fries. Peel them and slice them in fries-sized pieces. Then coat them in oil and paprika and spread the sweet potato fries out on a baking tray on top of baking paper. Make sure they don’t lie on top of each other.
While the oven is heating up, put the crème fraîche and a bit of milk in a small pot. Take a garlic press and squeeze the garlic into the mix, then grate a big handful of cheese into it. I used Tyrolean mountain cheese which has a strong taste. It’ll be balanced out by the crème and milk a bit. Add salt and pepper, then heat it up on the oven and stir until the cheese is melted. Once it’s a nice sauce, take it from the oven, pour into a saucière and put it in the fridge to cool down.
The sweet potatoes need to go in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, so depending how long you want to fry the meat, you can start with it when the potatoes are in. Fry the filet in one piece in a large pan. For rare you only need a couple of minutes on each side, so it gets a nice brown colour. The piece I used was thicker on one end, so I knew the narrower bit was going to be rather medium rare. Like this you can cater to different tastes.
With a 600g piece you can feed 2 hungry people, or 3 if you add more side dishes or a starter. After being fried, the meat needs 5-10 minutes in the oven, mainly so it’s warm throughout. Once the sweet potato fries are about 10 min before being finished, put them on the bottom of the oven and the meat in the middle. Pour some of the oil over the meat before you put it in to keep it from drying out.
The fries are softer than regular potato fries, so once they are done, use some kitchen roll for the spare fat and put them in a bowl. For the meat, it’s best served on a big wooden board. Before serving it, slice it in about 2-3 cm thick pieces. Like that, everyone can take fries, meat and sauce to their liking.
The sweet potatoes with the paprika tasted super and the paprika also added a nice flavour to the meat. The light creamy sauce with the chive-garlic-cheese taste was a great addition to the dish – it made it light and summery. I am glad I didn’t go with a heavy classic sauce this time, it would’ve been too much on a Summer day.