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Designing your own clay cooker for beef fillet.

Designing your own clay cooker for beef fillet

Custom-design your own clay cooker to show off a beef fillet. The inedible case keeps the meat moist and is a handsome container for reheating. It eliminates the messy splatters typical of high-heat roasting, making last-minute cooking duties tidy and uncomplicated.

The clay, which you make yourself, is a simple mixture of flour, salt, and water. A pliable dough often used for crafts, it looks like pastry but is too salty to eat.

Start this party entree a day ahead. Roast the fillet at a high temperature to brown the surface, then cool and thoroughly chill it. It must be cold for you to wrap it easily and for it to cook to the proper doneness when reheated. Also make the mustard sauce in advance, using the pan drippings from the roast. If you want, mix the salt clay ahead, too.

Up to 2 hours before final cooking, wrap the cold roast in salt clay, then chill it, uncovered, until shortly before serving. (The longer the meat stands in the case, the saltier it becomes.)

About 45 minutes before serving, brush the clay case with beaten egg and bake; the case will turn golden, and the meat will gently reheat. Just before serving, warm the mustard sauce.

Then comes the unveiling. Set the handsomely wrapped roast on a large platter or board and bring it to the table. Cut through all four sides of the case about an inch from the bottom and lift out the meat; set case to one side and slice meat. Offer mustard sauce to spoon over individual servings.

Beef in a Salt Clay Case

1 piece beef tenderloin (about 4 lb.)

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, at room temperature


Salt clay (recipe follows)

1 large egg, beaten

Mustard sauce (recipe follows)

Have your meatman trim most of the fat from the fillet, then tie the meat to form a compact, evenly shaped roast.

Rub meat with butter, then sprinkle with pepper. Place fillet in an 11- by 17-inch roasting pan. Bake in a 426| oven until meat registers 152| on a thermometer inserted in thickest part, about 30 minutes. Cool, cover, and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Reserve pan drippings for sauce.

Remove string and blot moisture from roast. Measure meat's length and its circumference at widest point (use string and a ruler). On a floured board, roll salt clay into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Cut clay about 5 inches longer than meat and 2 inches wider than the roast's circumference; save scraps to make decorations.

On rectangle, center roast with its flat side--the one that baked on the pan bottom --up. Gently lift (don't pull) pastry over meat, overlapping pastry on top. Fold pastry at roast ends up over meat, trimming off excess so dough isn't much thicker here than it is on rest of roast.

Gently roll roast, seam side down, onto a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Cut dough scraps into decorative shapes and arrange on case. (If made ahead, chill uncovered up to 2 hours. For minimum salt level, bake at once. By 2 hours, roast is lightly salted on exterior.) Brush dough with beaten egg. For a medium-rare roast, bake in a 425| oven until pastry is well browned, 40 to 45 minutes. For medium meat, cook fillet 15 to 20 minutes longer. Slide roast onto a large serving board or platter. At the table, cut around the sides of the case and lift off its top. With 2 forks, lift meat and set it on platter alongside case or on another board. Slice meat. Offer mustard sauce to spoon onto each serving. Serves 12 to 16.

Salt clay. In a mixing bowl, combine 4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup salt; stir in 1 3/4 cups water and moisten evenly.

With a heavy-duty mixer, use a dough hook to beat mixture until smooth and not sticky; add up to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, if needed, to prevent sticking.

By hand, scrape dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth and not sticky; add up to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, if needed, to prevent sticking.

If made ahead, cover and chill dough as long as overnight.

Mustard sauce. Pour pan drippings from beef (preceding) into a 1-cup measure; discard fat. Add regular-strength beef broth to drippings to make 1 cup. To roasting pan, add drippings with broth, 1 cup dry sherry, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon mustard seed. Boil until reduced by half, stirring to free browned particles in pan. Add 1 cup whipping cream; boil, uncovered, until reduced to 1 1/3 cups. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill. Stir over low heat until hot.)

Photo: Cut a rectangle of salt clay 5 inches longer than fillet and 2 inches wider than circumference

Photo: Place partly cooked, chilled roast on salt clay. Mold dough to meat, overlapping on top, folding ends

Photo: Apply decoratively shaped dough scraps to case, then brush pastry with beaten egg before baking

Photo: Present roast enclosed in custom-designed clay case; it's a tidy way to reheat browned fillet

Photo: At table, cut around sides of case and remove top to reveal roast

Photo: Set roast on platter to slice. Serve meat--brown outside, medium-rare inside--with mustard sauce and little potatoes and carrots
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Dec 1, 1986
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