Hazelnut, Thyme and Lemon Wrapped Beef Fillet. Am I pushing my luck?

Beef fillet with hazelnut herb crust.“Only a fool would mess with such a beautiful piece of beef.”

“Pepper it, salt it, fry it.”

“Are you sure you want to experiment with that? It must have cost more than the national debt!”

My expected guests were all of similar minds “Don’t mess with the beef.” seemed to be the unanimous theme. Like the late Margaret Thatcher, I was not for turning. Unlike the late MT, I was not wearing a blue dress. I was cogitating a new recipe for beef fillet.

For the record, I never wear a blue dress. I don’t even know why I mentioned it. I’m a man for goodness sake. Now back to the beef.

Here’s the ingredients:

  • A single piece of beef fillet suitable to serve six (about a kilo and a half)
  • 400 grammes of hazelnuts
  • A couple of hands-full of Panko breadcrumbs.
  • A tablespoon of mixed peppercorns
  • A tablespoon or so of thyme leaves
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

First, get the nuts out of their shells. I used a vice grips and a lot of swearing. Fry the nuts in a dry pan until their beautiful nutty aroma gets up your nostrils.

These turn a nice colour and give off a lovely aroma.

These turn a nice colour and give off a lovely aroma.

Let the nuts cool for a bit and then wrap them in a tea towel. Rub them together to remove most of the dark brown husk.

The nuts are ready. Am I nuts to be doing this to the beef?

The nuts are ready. Am I nuts to be doing this to the beef?

Chop the nuts in a blender until coarse. Chop the garlic. Crush the peppercorns. Put them and the other dry ingredients into a bowl.

The mixture is very aromatic. Hopefully it won't destroy the beef.

The mixture is very aromatic. Hopefully it won’t destroy the beef.

Add enough of the olive oil to bind the mixture. Be careful to not overdo this step. Spread the mixture on a piece of cling film.

The mixture looks good enough to eat. Good thing I made too much.

The mixture looks good enough to eat. Good thing I made too much.

Roll the beef in the mixture, wrapping it as you go.

My fate, like the beef's is sealed at this stage.

My fate, like the beef’s is sealed at this stage.

Pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes to firm it up a bit. It will be very difficult to get into the oven dish. Get it into the oven dish. Go carefully.

Beef in the oven dish read to cook. Note that some mixture slipped off. Darnation!

Beef in the oven dish read to cook. Note that some mixture slipped off. Darnation!

Roast at 200º C for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Beet that for beautiful beef.

Beat that for beautiful beef.

I served it with roast sweet potatoes and a beetroot purée. Ask me sometime to tell you the story of the beetroot purée and the blender that came in half. That’s another story.

Beautiful beef, extra coating sweet potato and beetroot. Awesomely delicious.

Beautiful beef, extra coating sweet potato and beetroot. Awesomely delicious.

Yes, I pushed my luck. The acid test? Everybody had extra crumb coating mixture. I had a hit on my hands. Luck pushed and a new beef fillet recipe on the books. Perhaps I could sell the recipe and buy that blue dress?

Perhaps not.

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Latest comments
  • That does look brilliant!

    • Thanks Jacqui, I was taking some risks with the meat. Worth it in the end.

  • It sounds delicious and the beef’s a perfect colour inside 🙂

    • Thanks MD. I would have liked it a little rarer, if the truth were to be told. I should have used Stefan’s thermometer!

  • Mmm, lovely combination of flavours and I really like the idea of the crunchy hazelnut coating. Genius. PS buy the blue dress. It works for Grayson Perry.

    • Blue, are you sure Linda? My ceramic skills would probably rival that scene in Naked Gun 33 and a 1/3.

      • You never know ’til you try. And it’d match your eyes 😀

        • Then it would be a brown dress. You know the old Irish saying “Never trust a man in a brown suit.” I suspect the same could be said of a man in a brown dress.

          • Then there’s that other old saying:”Never try to have to last word with an Irishman”. I concede. 😉

  • Jumped straight to the post’s end, expecting to read ” a big mistake”.
    Nice work, the beef looks delicious. Recipe saved here. Zest of one lemon should just give a piquant lift to the whole dish. Lemon v common w Carpaccio. Good decision on the dress, Blue is not your colour.

    • Thanks Michael, I am inclined to agree (on the lemon, not the dress).

  • Absolutely beautiful and bravo for not backing down, else we’d never have had the pleasure of reading this post.

    • Thanks Claudia. It was fun and easy to do. Despite the massive cost and risk.

  • I have to say I too was initially dubious about playing about too much with a beautiful piece of beef like that, but on reflection I think you may have a won me over. Especially if you think you have the legs to pass off the look.

    The recipe looks damn fine too.

    • The thought of my 55 year old, hairy legs sticking out of a dress is enough to put even me off my steak. Stop that Adam!

  • Beautiful meat, Conor – the type that would literally ruin me financially 😀

    • My butcher “looked after me” as we say. It was still pretty chunky. Very tasty though, if I say so myself.

  • this sounds delicious!

  • This looks amazing Conor! Question: Is blue really a good color for you? My best – B

    • Hi Barb,
      For the week that’s in it, I might just have to go back to the wardrobe and get out a little green number.

  • This is stunning. Just gorgeous!

    • Thanks Amanda. And I didn’t even put in a picture of me in the dress!

      • Ha. Funny, that’s what I was talking about! The dress!

  • Nice post, Conor! I’d say the bigger risk was cooking this costly piece of beef without using a thermometer… I wonder, what was your inspiration to combine hazelnuts and lemon with beef?

    • Thanks Stefan, Yes, there was a real risk there. The idea grew gradually. First, we saw the nuts in the supermarket and in a fit of enthusiasm, bought them. When plotting the crust, the idea of the lemon zest came to me. Given that it should work with the nuts, I thought it worthwhile to try.

      • Interesting. Hazelnuts and lemon are something I’d pair with rabbit or other white meat. I’ll have to try it with beef now 🙂

        • You are giving me a great idea for a simple stuffed chicken.

  • That filet looks UNBELIEVEABLE!

    • Thanks Stephane, It was very tasty and worked well with the other (pretty simple) ingredients.

  • Wow, what a fantastic bit of meat! I love the idea of the crust, wonder if it would work with lamb, too?

  • Hate blue [Mom’s fault: everything on my back in childhood was blue, red or white like a ruddy flag!] Love your beef recipe and shall try it soonest even if with a smaller piece of said fillet . . . this is interesting!!

    • Thanks Eha. I am beginning to regret mentioning the dress…

  • Good you weren’t diverted from your course. And that’s all I intend to say about The Iron Lady.

  • I’m sure you’d look quite dapper in a blue dress my friend…
    Damn fine looking piece of meat!

  • Hi Conor, glad to see a new post up of yours. OK, we have a saying in the USA which stemmed from a popular movie called “A Christmas Story” made in the 1983. It’s a staple in US households every year.

    “I double-dog dare you!”

    So…. I double-dog dare you to wear a blue dress and post a picture of you in it! Sounds like fun… NO? LOL. OK all kidding aside, this looks like a wondrous recipe for beef. And did you know Hazelnuts are the state nut of Oregon? (Where I live.) So there it is. Lots of good trivia in my comment. 🙂

  • Conor it is cooked absolutely perfectly. I know you must have been nervous about experimenting on it but I am glad you did so we can try it too. Love those flavours on the crust too. An amazing meal!

  • I salute your creativity in this dish, Conor. It looks fantastic and your dinner mates’ responses are proof of it’s success. Good job!
    Do post a selfie if and when you get that blue dress. Please.

    • Thankfully, I am camera shy John. I can’t see that selfie doing anything for anybody’s appetite.

  • It takes a real man to push his luck like this and succeed. I literally (actually?) said “Whoa!” when I scrolled down to find that beautiful beef shot. Well done, sir.

    • Thanks Tommy. I appreciate your expletion (if there is such a word).

  • I’d be too terrified to cock something like that up. Probably just eat it raw. With a drop of red wine perhaps.

    • Put on the MT dress and eat it raw, dunking it occasionally in the wine.

      Then post the selfie.

  • It’s a masterpiece and you are a master of the beef to have turned this out. Oh my gosh those hazelnuts must of taken every bit of patience you have! Gorgeous photography once again.

    • Oh and I had to mention your masthead photo too Conor! Frame worthy.

      • Thanks, it is a byproduct of an Indian lamb shank post yet to appear. More anon.

    • Thanks, they took a good deal of patience to extract them. Very tasty though.

  • I’m so impressed Conor… this recipe really floored me! It deserves more than a try!

    • Thanks. It was pretty tasty, after all the worry…

  • OK, I’ll bite. What happened with the beets?

    • The bottom came out of the blender while the beets were blending. Boy can it make a mess of the kitchen.

  • You have a reputation to uphold to you have to push your luck. Job well done. 🙂

    • Thank Karen,
      Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.

  • That meat is PERFECTLY cooked. Gorgeous post Conor. You see, I am still backtracking through your posts in an attempt to find the Indian lamb shanks. Am I persisting with a futile search? It remains to be seen. But I’ll be mighty hungry by the end of it…

    • Ha! you will have to keep coming back. I haven’t finished the post yet. Though, I have finished the lamb shanks. Post to come very soon. Thanks for the kind comments.

      • I will definitely keep coming back. I guess that the spiced leg of lamb will keep me satisfied until the stated lamb shank recipe appears. Lamb fest it is!

  • Your dishes are magic. Fantastic job. I will be a regular visitor to your blog.

    • Thank you. You are too kind. Thanks for the visit and do please come back soon.

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