I didn't try poached meat until a couple of years ago and to be honest the idea didn't appeal to me. A lot of chefs implied that cooking meat in good red wine was a waste, but how wrong they were. As well as Barolo, this dish works with many other red wines especially nice spicy ones like Rioja or Shiraz. What I'm trying to say is that if you use rubbish wine in cooking it will come back to haunt you in the tasting.
- 2 celeriacs
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 (7 to 8-ounce/200 to 225gram) fillet steaks, preferably organic and well marbled
- 1 pint (570 milliliters) chicken stock
- 1/2 bottle Barolo wine or any other full-bodied red wine
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and kept whole
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme
- 6 whole peppercorns
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) butter
First peel the celeriac down to the white, smooth flesh. Cut into rough 1-inch (2 centimeter) dice. Half fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil. Take another pan, which will snugly fit your 4 steaks later, and add your chicken stock, wine, garlic, bunch of thyme, peppercorns and a pinch of salt. Bring this to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. By this time your pan of boiling water should be ready, so add your celeriac, cover with a lid and boil fast for around 15 to 20 minutes until it's tender.
Place your 4 steaks side by side into the simmering wine and stock, making sure they are covered well by the liquid. Add a little water if needed, but if the pan is nice and snug the steaks should be well covered. As soon as they are in the pan, it generally takes about 6 minutes to cook rare, 8 minutes for medium and 10 for medium to well done. Depending on the thickness of the steaks and how cold they were when you put them in, there's always a bit of leeway on the timing, so the best thing to do is give them a little pinch to check how soft they are in the middle. Cover the pan with a cartouche of greaseproof paper.
When the steaks are cooked to your liking, remove them to a warm plate, cover and leave them to rest for a couple of minutes while you drain your cooked celeriac in a colander. Place it back in the pan, adding half the butter. Mash to a smooth puree and season well to taste.
To make a light sauce, all you need is 2 wineglasses full of the poaching liquor - you can freeze the rest. Bring this to a fast boil, then remove the thyme and peppercorns and mash up the garlic, which will be soft and sweet. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste and add the rest of the butter. Shake the pan lightly so the melted butter dissolves into the wine - this will make a shiny lightly thickened sauce. Do not re-boil as it will split. Serve each steak with a bit of mash and a little sauce.