Fillet of beef en croute with creamed spinach

Beef en croute
Beef en croute
There’s a chill in the air and leaves are falling thick on the ground. As we settle in for long winter nights around the fire, we begin to crave the kind of food that’s worth staying in for.

Not only is this dish an absolute showstopper, it’s also an indulgent classic that has stood the test of time, and it’s easy to see why.

With its fine marbling and great flavour, grass-fed Irish beef is the choice of leading chefs around the world, who seek it out for their menus.Thanks to Irish Beef and for supplying this delicious recipe.

Serves 4

For the beef en croute

Olive oil, for frying
350g beef fillet (in one piece)
1 egg white
1 tbsp prepared English mustard
225g ready-made puff pastry, thawed if frozen

For the pancakes

50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 eggs
75ml milk
2 tbsp chopped fresh mixed fresh herbs, such as chervil, tarragon and chives

For the creamed spinach

150g spinach, tough stalks removed
8 tbsp double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beef en croute made with pancakes
Beef en croute made with pancakes
To make the pancakes, sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then break in the eggs and add a little of the milk.

Gradually beat in the flour until smooth. Beat in the remaining milk to obtain the consistency of single cream. Add the herbs. Cover with cling film and leave for 20 minutes to allow the batter to rest.

To cook the pancakes, heat a large heavy-based frying pan. When the pan is hot, smear with a little oil. Pour in a small amount of the batter and swirl it around until it is evenly and thinly spread over the bottom of the pan.

Cook for 1 minute until the edges start to curl away from the sides of the pan. Flip over and cook for another 30 seconds or so until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate and cover with a square of parchment paper. Repeat until you have four pancakes in total.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Season the beef. When the pan is hot, add the beef and quickly seal all over. Remove from the pan, place on a plate and allow to cool completely.  Place the egg white in a bowl and beat in the mustard until well combined. Brush all over the cooled beef fillet and wrap in a single layer of the pancakes, cutting them to fit as necessary.

Roll out the pastry to at least 6 times the surface area of the beef. Roll the pastry over the beef with a 1cm overlap, trim the ends of the pastry leaving 5cm longer then the beef fillet and then neatly fold in the ends, dampening the edges to seal.

Place the pastry wrapped beef fillet seam-side down on a large, non-stick baking sheet. Break the remaining egg into a small bowl and season. Beat with a fork and then use to brush all over the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Remove from the oven to a carving board and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the creamed spinach. Blanch the spinach in a large pan of boiling salted water until wilted, then drain and quickly refresh in cold water. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and finely chop.

Place the cream in a pan and simmer gently until reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach and allow to just warm through.

Season to taste. Carve the beef en croute into slices and arrange on plates with the creamed spinach to serve

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

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