Parsley-Crusted Steak with Mushroom Ketchup and Garlic Puree

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.

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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.

Ingredients

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For 6 servings

6 wagyu flank steaks of 100 grams (3.5 oz) each

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

For the mushroom ketchup

500 grams (1.1 lbs) button mushrooms, preferably brown/chestnut mushrooms

salt

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

fresh thyme

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

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Use a slow juicer to extract the juice out of the mushrooms. You will obtain about 180 ml (3/4 cup) of mushroom juice.

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.

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Use very accurate scales to measure the right amount of Gellan F, which has to be 1% of the weight of the mushroom juice.

Heat the mushroom juice to 95C/203F. Add the Gellan F and mix well.

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Transfer the container to an ice bath and blend regularly with a handheld blender while it is cooling to obtain a smooth gel.

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Combine vinegar and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

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Mix the thickened mushroom juice with the vinegar mixture, finely grated parmigiano, salt, and white soy sauce to taste. Transfer to a piping bag and store in the refrigerator.

Preparation of the garlic puree

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Peel the garlic cloves and put them in a saucepan.

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Cover with milk and bring to a boil.

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Allow to boil for 15 seconds, then drain, discarding the milk. Repeat this 5 times.

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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.

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Remove the thyme and pass the garlic puree through a foodmill or sieve. Keep warm over low heat, stirring now and then, until ready to serve.

Preparation of the wagyu flank steak

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Season the beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper and vacuum seal. Cook sous-vide for 48 hours at 55C/131F.

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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.)

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Bring the beef stock to a boil in a wide shallow pan. Reduce the heat once it’s boiling to a mere simmer.

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Reduce to about 80 ml (1/3 cup). The demi glace should be thick and syrupy.

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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.

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Meanwhile, sauté the chanterelle mushrooms in (clarified) butter and season them with salt.

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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.

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Coat each steak with the demi glace on both sides.

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Dip each steak in the parsleyed breadcrumbs with one side.

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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.

Epilogue

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.

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35 thoughts on “Parsley-Crusted Steak with Mushroom Ketchup and Garlic Puree

  1. I know a few people who intensely dislike meat, any meat that has been vacuum packed. They claim there’s is a peculiar odour when you open the bag and a taste to the meat they find abhorrent. Personally I am hesitant to cook sous vide because of the interaction that occurs between heat and plastic. Fats can act on plastic in the same way. I do buy vacuum packed meat and while sometimes I think it’s smells sweaty, I have detected no flavour change. Do you have a copy of Harold McGees the Science of Cooking, he might shine some lights on the cause. PS How soon till you travel?

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I know what odour you are talking about. It is caused by anaerobic bacteria on the surface of the meat, that have a field day in the low oxygen environment of a vacuum sealed bag. This odour dissipates when the meat is left to ‘breathe’ for a bit, and I have never tasted it in the cooked product. You may have a point though that it’s the same type of bacteria that caused the smell in this case. I’ll have to see if I can think of something to avoid their growth, such as using a bit of vinegar.
      The plastic bags I use for cooking sous-vide have been designed and tested for that use and there is no scientific indication that any interaction takes place.
      I do have McGee’s books, but I don’t remember that he covers this topic anywhere. I’ll double check.

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    1. On a daily basis I cook for my husband Kees. On weekends I cook for friends or, as in this case, visiting bloggers 🙂 I tend to cook small portions, so even when there are many courses in a menu, it is not a lot of food.

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  2. Stefan: this has been very interesting to read, but methinks you are right that not many readers will attempt it your way. We can certainly learn from parts of the dish, eg the parsley breadcrumbs . . . and I make a mean demi-glace which takes about three days from initial stock to the syrupy glaze . . .but, I don’t think I would be comfortable in using 5 lots of milk to make a garlic puree . . . and I personally am not enamoured by ‘sous-vide’ as you would know . . . vive la difference 🙂 !

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    1. Vive la difference for sure 🙂 Have you ever tried sous-vide? I believe I should try food before forming an opinion. And so I had chicken gizzards for the first time the other day and they were much better than I had anticipated. I’ve heard about three-day demi glace recipes, but I make mine in a single day. That reminds me I have to review the differences between the three-day recipe and what I do.

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      1. Hello Stefan: a couple of points 🙂 ! Demi-glace – I do not make it often these days as I have to ‘fit’ three ‘full’ jobs into every day of seven: it is labour intensice. The three day option has always been because of lack of time: stock the first day, clarify the second, cook down the third. Of course, if one can take the time, one can do it in one 🙂 ! Sous vide: methinks [with the biggest smile on my face] we better not go there. Just accept the difference. I believe the results to be how Heston Blumenthal and many restaurant chefs and you state. Again it is a matter of time, lack of equipmant, but, having been in the plastics industry for three decades [family firm] and now still learning medicine, I do have certain misgivings about using PVC in wet heat . . .OK: won’t mention it again, promise 🙂 !

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  3. This was some dinner you guys prepared, Stefan. Too bad about those 2 wagyu steaks. What a shame! I think you may be right, though, about them coming from the display case. Those steaks, by the way, were beautiful, so nicely marbled. Your garlic purée sounds wonderful, too. I bet you all had a great time preparing this dinner. I may not replicate it fully but I like your suggestion of grilling a steak and adding the breadcrumbs. That I can do easily. 🙂

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  4. I know better than most the amount of thought and effort you put into each ‘experiment’ and the resulting post. There must be a huge temptation to ignore the reality of the second pack and tell us it was all wonderful.
    Well done Stefan. Awesome planning, patience and cooking skills. Now, all I have to do is buy a sous vide machine, a slow juicer and a charcoal grill…

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    1. Thanks Conor. I don’t own a slow juicer (not yet anyway) and had to borrow it from my friend. I’ll convince you to buy a sous-vide machine yet 😉
      In the meantime, you could use the trick with the breadcrumbs with a steak (or lamb) cooked in a more ordinary way and turn it into something extraordinary 🙂

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  5. Thanks to you and your efforts and bravura, I am learning so much. I didn’t even know a slow juicer existed! Contrary to another comment above, I think the garlic purée merits all the passages in milk (I do something similar with garlic when I make the bagna cauda) …

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    1. Fair enough: my comment was based on the fact that I wondered whether all the milk could be later used – having worked all my life for those in need in Third World countries makes one watch each mouthful we in the affluent countries may not use up. As I said: to each their own 🙂 !

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      1. The milk is used to remove the strong taste of the garlic, so it could still be used from a nutritional point of view, but you’d have to love garlic 😉 I see what you mean about developing countries — I do realise that everything I do with food is a luxury compared to what is available in many parts of the world.

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      1. Sorry to come back: we all have different backgrounds and belief systems . . . my life story has led me to be ultra careful to use every skerrick of what I am privileged to have: but if I may correct you, it is ‘everything WE do’: I am no angel in that regard myself. Oh, and I love garlic!! over and out and my apologies . . .

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  6. I don’t even know what to say… this is an incredible meal. Every single aspect of it. Personally, I would have to add a little tomato paste or something to “improve” the color of the mushroom ketchup, but that’s just me. And this isn’t a criticism. I’m just a little weird about colors. But that garlic puree sounds divine. And the steaks look incredible. Fabulous!!!

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  7. What a grand experiment! I also hate it when there is a fail, but as long as I learn from it then nothing lost. I am a big fan of sous vide and Heston Blumenthal. I love the Fat Duck cook book. Your food is very inspiring!

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    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for the very nice compliment! My friend is also a big fan of Heston’s. We also prepared a red cabbage gazpacho together based on one of Heston’s recipes. I agree with you on the learning from fails!

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  8. nice show-off of technical cooking Stefan 🙂 I have little to say about your mishaps with those steaks, they all should have come out tasting equally delicious but who knows… so many variables sometimes it is impossible to predict or control. The garlic puree is something I really want to give a try, and the demi glace, I wanna try making it your way as well. Excellent post! I’m this close to get back to blogging!

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    1. Guido, thanks so much! I’m pretty sure that lactobacillus is the culprit as written in the thread you linked to:

      “An odd smell occasionally occurs in long cooking of meat (beef, pork, probably lamb) because the low temp doesn’t kill off lactobacillus type bacteria (the ones used in making cheese, buttermilk, yogurt). This bacteria is not harmful, it just may give the meat a ‘stinky cheese’ odor.

      The meat can be seared and eaten and it won’t affect the quality or flavor of the meat. It can be minimized by searing all sides of the meat (the bacteria are on the surface) with a kitchen torch or on the stove top before vacuum sealing and cooking.”

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  9. I just cooked a Flank Steak Sous Vide (56c 24h) which did not end as I was hoping it would. All three pieces ended up with a brownish-grey-green surface, a strange smell (not awful but strange and unexpected).
    Was there discolouration on the steak that went wrong in your bath?

    I don’t know how to post the smell here, or even the pic of my sad steak for that matter… Sorry

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    1. It is normal that the meat doesn’t look very appealing after cooking sous-vide, that’s why you always need to brown it afterwards. Grey and brown is normal, however green not so much. If the smell is not awful then I’m pretty sure you could still eat it regardless, and the browning may also help to remove the smell.
      The problem probably was that the steak wasn’t very fresh. When in doubt, it helps to sear the steak BEFORE cooking it sous-vide. Allow to cool after searing before vacuum sealing. If you like you could even sear it again after cooking sous-vide.
      Hope this helps!

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