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My husband’s second job preference is that of a butcher. I am saying this because one day he told me so and not because I would like him to become one, or because I imagine him carrying beef carcasses and whole pigs! But, I must admit, that he can handle and cut meat very well. He can patiently de-bone a rabbit, takes interest in understanding what makes good meat and enjoys shopping at the butcher.

So to satisfy his enthusiasm I had bought him the book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: The River Cottage Meat Book. It’s a must read for all meat lovers and a source of information for anyone who wants to know if the butcher you are buying from is a good one, and it can help you recognize good meat and identify the best methods to cook different types and cuts of meat. Here are some tips I have seized from the section about beef.

Beef fillet or Undercut

If you are ever wondering why the beef fillet is an expensive cut well it’s because in a whole, average sized beef carcass there is only 2 to 2.5kg of fillet. Moreover, its tenderness is coming from the fact that it is the muscle which is exercised least. What you might also need to know is that the fillet is the less flavorsome from all other cuts therefore for your taste-buds’ sake do not overcook fillet. I suggest you buy fresh beef fillet and serve it rare or medium that should make a tastier dish.

Recipe: Beef fillet al cartoccio

Beef fillet al cartoccio

Beef fillet al cartoccio - Photo by David Caruana

Serves 4

  • 4 beef fillet medallions (3cm thick)
  • 4 potatoes
  • a large bunch of fresh thyme & chives
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tblsp white wine
  • chopped chilli pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g green olives
  • salt & pepper

Peel, wash and pat dry the potatoes, then cut them into wedges. Place the potato wedges in a frying pan with some olive oil, season with salt and cook them on a moderately high heat for around 10 minutes, until they become golden. Remove the wedges from the pan and keep them aside. In the same frying pan, put the butter and when this melts add the beef medallions. Fry for a couple of minutes from each side on a high flame to seal the meat.

Take the herbs, wash and pat them dry, finely chop herbs together with the garlic clove. Distribute the mixture on each side of the beef fillets covering them well. Transfer the medallions individually in a sheet of foil, add the potatoes, olives, some chilli pepper, and a tablespoon of white wine to each of the parcels. Season with salt & pepper, seal parcels and place in the oven, preheated to 200C, for around 15 minutes.

Serve with a glass of Chianti Classico.

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5 Responses to “The most popular beef cut: the fillet”

  1. Mirana says:

    I tried it and it was a great success with my guests. I now can’t stop thinking of Chris with a whole pig on his shoulders. 🙂 lol

  2. Meeta says:

    OOh I love beef when it is skillfully prepared and that begins at the butcher. Would love to meet your man and talk about good beef. Hope you are well Olivia!

    • Olivia says:

      Hi Meeta any plans to visit Malta this Summer? Would be glad to meet you again and discuss beef, and a million of other things! 🙂 I am well thanks hope your bruised ankle is healing.

  3. Lorraine says:

    Chris is a great confectioner too….please post the Pavlova’s recipe!!

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