One of the best ways to become a better cook is to learn from others. I asked my modernist cooking friends Teun and Albert to join forces with me to create dishes together. This dish is the first result of that collaboration. It was loosely based upon a dish that Albert had cooked before out of the Big Fat Duck cookbook. We wanted to do something with wagyu sous-vide. The idea for the mushroom ketchup came from the Big Fat Duck dish. As parsley and garlic are friends of mushrooms in Italian cuisine, we decided to coat the steak with parsleyed bread crumbs and serve it with a garlic puree.
For me the main success of this dish was the crust. The wagyu flank steak was very tender and flavorful because it had been cooked sous-vide, and had additional flavor because it was finished on a charcoal grill. The tender beef was complemented very nicely by the crunchy parsley crust. The combination with the mushroom ketchup, mushrooms, and the garlic puree also worked very well.
The mushroom ketchup is made with a slow juicer, a thermomix and a thickening agent called Gellan F that is quite finicky. The garlic puree is prepared by boiling whole garlic cloves in milk 5 times, and then cooking the garlic in milk until tender. All in all this is quite a bit of work and a lot of special equipment is needed, so I don’t expect many of my readers to recreate this recipe exactly. However, if you like beef then I urge you try cooking a good rib eye steak on a grill and then coating it with the breadcrumbs as described in this recipe. That is pretty easy to do and makes for a great effect.
6 wagyu flank steaks of 100 grams (3.5 oz) each
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mushroom ketchup
500 grams (1.1 lbs) button mushrooms, preferably brown/chestnut mushrooms
2 grams gellan F
60 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
25 grams (2 Tbsp) sugar
white soy sauce (shiro shoyu) to taste
2 Tbsp finely grated parmigiano reggiano
For the garlic puree
5 heads of garlic
1.5 litres (6 cups) of whole milk
120 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
salt and freshly ground white pepper
For finishing the dish
100 grams chanterelle mushrooms, sliced
4 Tbsp (clarified) butter
6 Tbsp coarse breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 litre (4 cups) beef stock
Preparation of the ketchup
If you do not own a slow juicer, you can also grind the mushrooms in a food processor with a teaspoon of salt. Transfer the mixture to a cheese cloth and tie into a pouch. Hang this overnight in the refrigerator and catch the liquid that will drip from the pouch.
Heat the mushroom juice to 95C/203F. Add the Gellan F and mix well.
Preparation of the garlic puree
After covering the garlic with milk for the 6th time, add fresh thyme, salt, and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Add the cream. Cook over low heat, stirring now and then, until the garlic is soft.
Preparation of the wagyu flank steak
To make the beef demi glass, start by making beef stock and allow to cool. The fat will become a solid layer on top that will be easy to remove. (Don’t discard the fat as it has a lot of flavor and can be used for example for this pasta dish with cauliflower.)
When the beef has finished cooking sous-vide, remove from the pouch, allow to cool for about 15 minutes, pat dry, and rub with olive oil. Brown the beef briefly on a very hot charcoal grill. The beef is already cooked, so keep it on only long enough to develop a nice brown crust.
Take the mushrooms out of the pan and allow them to drain on paper towels. In the same pan, add the breadcrumbs, parsley, and garlic, and sauté until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Add a bit more butter if needed.
Arrange the steaks on hot plates, breadcrumbs up. Arrange drops of mushroom ketchup on the plates and put slices of chanterelle mushrooms on top of the ketchup. Arrange some dollops of garlic puree on the plates to taste (serve more or less of the garlic puree depending on how much you like garlic). Serve immediately.
There was a bit of rain on the parade of this dish. Teun told me he has stopped using long cooking times when cooking wagyu sous-vide because the meat develops a smell that he can’t stand. I had had this problem with lamb cooked sous-vide for a long time sometimes (especially with male lamb), but never yet with beef including wagyu. And so I insisted that we prepare the wagyu sous-vide despite Teun’s misgivings. I had bought 10 portions of the wagyu flank steak, and vacuum sealed them in one package of 4 portions (that was eaten the night before) and one package of 6 portions for the dinner with Teun and Albert. Both were cooked sous-vide at 55C/131F for 48 hours. The first package was fine as usual, but… the second package did have the bad smell. After the wagyu had been grilled it was good enough to eat, but not by far as good as the previous night
I have been cooking a LOT of sous-vide over the last two and a half years, but I am not sure what went wrong. My theory is that wagyu beef is more prone to spoilage because it is so fatty, and that two of the portions in the second package were slightly spoiled. I remember that the other 8 portions came from a new vacuum sealed package opened in front of me at the butcher’s, while the other two had been lying in the display at least since the day before. Since in sous-vide cooking the meat is brought to pasteurization temperature slowly, the spoilage that would not have been a problem if the beef had been grilled straight away on the same day, now developed further before the meat reached the pasteurization temperature, and also affected the other portions in the same vacuum pouch.
If anyone out there has more information about this, please leave a comment.