*This recipe appeared in my column in the Sunday Mercury in January 2007
I knew it was a tough ask to find any shop selling barbeque charcoal in January because all large stores remove items once there out of season, but luckily my local garage still had a couple of leftover disposable barbeques which I snapped up. Although it was a sunny January day the nice lady behind the counter thought I was being a bit too ambitious to be barbequing so early in the year. You see I’d woken up the other morning with an idea of putting a new twist on pepper steak and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like winter get in my way.
Ingredients (for 2 people)
2 x 200g (8oz) Fillet Steaks
100g (4oz) unsalted butter
1Tbsp Black peppercorns
1 Tbsp Brandy
1 Bag of mixed salad leaves
1 Punnet of vine ripe baby tomatoes
2-3 Handfuls of soaked hickory wood chips*
2 Rashers of streaky bacon
1 dessertspoon of Olive oil
1 disposable barbeque
1 disposable tin foil tray the same size
- Soak the wood chips in cold water at least 3 hours (or overnight) before you need them.
- Wash the mixed salad leaves and baby plum tomatoes, then drain.
- Cut up the butter into small pieces so that it will soften more quickly.
- Place your disposable barbeque on concrete or bricks outside and light per the instructions.
- Crush peppercorns in mortar and pestle but not too fine.
- Mix butter and peppercorns together then add the brandy, stirring well until brandy has been absorbed into the butter.
- Shape the butter into a few small “scoops” using a dessertspoon then place the scoops onto a tray covered with parchment paper and refrigerate.
- Wrap one rasher of bacon around the side of each steak as tightly as you can, using a toothpick to pin it in place.
- After the barbeque coals have turned grey (about 40 minutes) and are tempered, this is to avoid flare up on the grill. Drain the wood chips and carefully make a bed of them on the lit barbeque. There needs to be enough wood chips so the steaks can rest on the chips, not on the grill.
- Place the steaks on top of the wood chips and cover the steaks with the disposable roasting tray. Allow them to smoke for 3-4 minutes and then turn them over and repeat. It’s important to make sure the steaks are smoking not grilling, so keep an eye on them, then remove and allow to cool.
- Remove any wood chips stuck to the steaks and brush them a dessertspoon of olive oil.
- Carefully remove woodchips from the top of the barbeque into a fireproof tray then grill the steaks to your liking, making sure to brown all sides of each fillet to seal in the juices. Allow the steaks 4-5 minutes to rest in a warm place before serving.
Place a little mound of the salad leaves into the centre of each plate. Place a little bunch of the tomatoes to the side. Place the steak on the salad leaves and top with the peppercorn butter.
The purpose of the bacon is to help keep the fillet steaks a nice tight cylindrical shape when smoking and cooking and give a very lean cut of beef a little fat. My recipe calls for 8oz fillets which are very expensive these days, you could cut the size to 6.5 oz (180g) but the steaks still need to be thick (cut from the middle towards the end of the whole fillet) for this recipe to work. (if they are too thin, they will cook before they smoke).
*Most large supermarkets or hardware stores that sell barbeque equipment in the summer will also usually sell wood chips. There are various types like Oak, Hickory but you can also find wood chips from various fruit trees including Plum, Apple and Damson that also great for barbequing.
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