Barbecued Beef Fillet with Sweet Potatoes & Grilled Mushrooms

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My friend Jason made this years ago on a farm in South Africa. It was beautiful. The beef fillet is simply seasoned and spiced and then mummified in bacon before being seasoned and spiced again. It is then covered in sliced tomatoes and onions, wrapped in foil and placed under the red-hot wood coal. This is best served with baked sweet potatoes, next to the fire, under a star-filled African sky.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz) piece of beef fillet
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • a few sprigs of rosemary & sage
  • a few bay leaves
  • 4 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 300 g (10½ oz) unsmoked pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) small sweet potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • teaspoons dried oregano
  • juice of lemons
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 large flat field mushrooms

Method

This is best cooked over a coal or wood barbecue. When it is very hot, put a rack over the barbecue and sear the fillet all over so it is golden. Remove from the heat. Lay down six pieces of foil, overlapping well, to make a rectangle at least 60 cm (24 inches) long. Arrange half the tomato slices in the middle and season with salt and pepper. Top with a sprig of rosemary, sage and a couple of bay leaves. Arrange half the onions over the top and season with salt and pepper. Arrange half the pancetta on top, slightly overlapping each slice, to make a rectangle.

Lay the fillet on top of the pancetta, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Wrap up the fillet in the pancetta from the bottom up and then lay the rest of the pancetta over the top. Repeat the onions and other ingredients in reverse order. Wrap up tightly in the foil (it’s great if you have someone to help) and then roll a few more layers of foil around the meat, so you have a neat package. Cook directly in the barbecue coals for about 1¼ hours for rare beef and longer if you prefer. Turn the meat every 15 minutes or so during the cooking time.

Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes and prick the skins in a couple of places. Sprinkle with salt and wrap in foil. Bake among the coals for about 50 minutes, turning occasionally.

Combine the garlic, oregano, lemon juice and oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush over the mushrooms and grill on a rack over the hot coals for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through, brushing with more marinade during cooking. Serve immediately.