Collops of Beef with Horseradish Sauce

Before I tell you about the beef, let me digress for a moment in praise of spring greens, which I recommend you serve with it. Late April to early May is the time to enjoy those loose-leaved monochrome greens that are the colour of cabbage white butterflies at the heart and the dark green of a finely polished steam railway engine on the outside. If you do not grow your own, be sure to buy crisp, vibrant, fresh ones. Too many greengrocers offer flabby, tired greens – reject them. Or you won’t enjoy this simple treat.

To prepare the greens, peel off the outside leaves, which may be a little coarse, and cut out the stalk at the bottom. Then, with a sharp stainless knife, chop the rest and drop them little by little into boiling salted water for about 2 or 3 minutes, until just cooked. Whip them off the heat, strain (making sure that no water remains) and toss in a pan of foaming melted butter for a couple of seconds with a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. You then have a superb vegetable to serve with Aidan McCormack’s excellent little Collops of Beef with Horseradish Sauce – which I had in the calmly panelled dining room of Middlethorpe Hall in York on a May day when the sun shone so clearly and brightly through the finely polished windows.

Please excuse this wild self-indulgent excursion into gastronomic reportage from our own correspondent on the kitchen front, but on a 3,000-mile, three-week research trip it was really pleasing to get a plate of cabbage, and this fine dish of beef, the recipe for which now follows.

Collops are thin discs of meat cut from the centre of the fillet – your butcher will do this for you.

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Ingredients

  • 4 beef collops
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Butter
  • 1 large glass port
  • 6 tablespoons creamed horseradish
  • Veal or chicken stock: 6 fl oz (175 ml) if in jelly form; 10 fl oz (500 ml) if liquid
  • double cream
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Fry the collops in butter, then keep them warm while preparing the sauce.

Sauté the shallot in some butter. Add the port and reduce by half. Add the horseradish, then the stock followed by the cream, and finally whisk in a walnut-sized piece of butter. Season to taste.

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