Monday, 9 June 2014

Fillet Steak, Baked Onion & Shallot Purée

This is my play on steak and onions. Onions are one of those basic ingredients that practically everyone always has in their kitchens. We are all used to the brown-skinned so called “cooking onions” which are available in every grocery store and supermarket. But there are loads of other types of onions available; - spring onions (aka scallions), shallots, Spanish onions, red onions etc. All of these have their own particular characteristics which can be used to good effect in a range of dishes. I also love the vaguely oniony taste of leeks and chives and use them regularly in my cooking.

When cooked or sweated slowly, onions become incredibly sweet, but retain their savoury edge, a feature which can be exploited in cooking to create balance in a dish.

One of my favourite dishes to eat is a classic French onion soup – it is a perfect example of how something so simple can taste so good. It is warming and comforting to eat and whilst very much a casual bistro dish, there is something so elegant about it. I absolutely love it. From time-to time, I also like to make a cream of onion soup, gently flavoured with thyme and decorated with thyme or chive flowers. This is a perfect soup for a spring or summer’s day and I promise to post the recipe for it in the near future.
In the meantime, I wanted to create a dish that celebrated onions in their own right and focussed on their versatility. I think this dish does that really well. Here I have made a baked stuffed onion which I have paired with a shallot purée. The stuffed onion is really tasty and along with the shallot purée it would make a substantial vegetarian starter to a meal. However, in this instance, I wanted to include some protein and make something more suitable for presenting as a main course – so I decided that I would serve my onions with some fillet steak.

This was absolutely delicious to eat and whilst there are some processes and steps involved in making the stuffed onions and the shallot purée, these can be prepared in advance with the stuffed onions being baked while you cook and rest the steak, during which time you can also gently re-heat the shallot purée. As such, it would be an ideal dish to serve at a dinner party.


4 x 125g fillet steaks
A little vegetable oil for frying
A splash of balsamic vinegar
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Shallot Purée:
50g butter
500g shallots peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
200ml double cream
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Baked Onions:
4 large onions, peeled but kept whole with root still intact
25g butter
50g butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
1tblsp finely chopped curly leaved parsley
1tblsp finely chopped thyme
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


Shallot Purée:
1. Melt in the butter in a large saucepan over a moderate heat and add the sliced shallots and the bay leaf. Season well with Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 40-45 minutes until the shallots are soft and translucent but barely coloured. Pour in the double cream and allow to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Extract the bay leaf and discard.
2. Transfer the creamy shallot mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. For a really velvety purée, pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan. Set aside and keep warm.
Baked Onions:
3. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Heat the butter in a non-stick oven proof frying pan. When the butter is sizzling, add the onions, turning them so that they turn golden brown on all sides. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes or so until they are cooked through but not soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes so that you can comfortably handle them.
4. Cut about a third off the top of each onion and set aside. Using a sharp knife, scoop out the inner layers of each onion leaving 2 or 3 layers intact around the outside. Chop up the inner layers  which you have removed. Set aside.
5. In a separate saucepan, heat the butter over a moderate heat and sweat the shallot and garlic until they have softened and turned translucent. Stir in the breadcrumbs and herbs and season well. Finally, mix, in the chopped reserved onions. This is your stuffing.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between the four onions, stuffing it in firmly. Replace the top of the onions and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until hot and a rich golden colour.
To finish:
7. Heat a large oven-proof frying pan with a little vegetable oil until very hot. Sear the steaks for about 30 seconds on each side, add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and then place the frying pan in the hot oven for a further 3 - 5 minutes (depending on how you like your steak cooked). Remove from the oven and allow to rest.
8. Put a smear of warm onion purée, sprinkle over a few individual thyme leaves and place a baked onion on each plate. Slice the rested fillet steaks and place on the plates along with some of the pan juices from cooking the steak.

Serves 4.