The French Retreat part three. A very early start and Faux Fillét with Concentrated Onions and ‘Very French’ Beans.

Barbecued Faux Fillet (9 of 9)The cock crows. It’s about 4.30 in the morning (or so it seems to me) and it is time to get out of bed and get busy. The Wife, lying beside me, grumbles and turns her face to the wall. In the half-light, I stumble to the kitchen and make a ‘tray of tea’ to tempt her into wakefulness. Why do we need to be up so early? We are on holidays for goodness sake! Move the clock forward by an hour or so. We are in the car, driving towards a market. They start early. Long before any civilised nation would be thinking of a mid morning coffee, they then close for lunch. The lunch closure lasts for a number of hours. So if one wants to get anywhere in time to see it open and populated by French people, one needs to be up with the lark. Some holiday!

Thankfully, there are a number of compensating factors. It is worth dragging one’s carcass out of the bed to get the choice of the food. More of this in part 4 of this little series. For now, let me regale you with the fruits of one such venture. An early evening meal (it had to be, we were so tired) of Faux Fillét with Concentrated Onions and ‘Very French’ Beans.

Ingredients as per the photo. You don’t need a list. The beef cut is Faux Fillét (pretend fillet), Striploin or Sirloin depending upon from where you hail. The rest you can work out for yourselves. I’m too tired to list them.

In fairness, they do a pretty good piece of steak over there. It's probably Irish...

In fairness, they do a pretty good piece of steak over there. It’s probably Irish…

If we are going to be tired of an evening, we may as well be a bit ‘tired and emotional’ as they say. So, get the wine open.

Incredible St. Emilion value. A wonderful inky black wine full of complexity and body.

Incredible St. Emilion value. A wonderful inky black wine full of complexity and body.

While the wine is breathing, slice the onions and put them in a little olive oil, in a pan over a medium low heat. Add a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar.

Onions with a little balsamic. These are going to be sweet!

Onions with a little balsamic. These are going to be sweet!

Slowly reduce them down, stirring occasionally to prevent them either burning or sticking. While this is happening, light the barbecue, wash and chop / prepare the other vegetables.

They eat a lot of these 'French' beans in France. They should be called 'Very French Beans'.

They eat a lot of these ‘French’ beans in France. They should be called ‘Very French Beans’.

Side note on French Beans: Here in Ireland, we get our ‘French’ beans from Nigeria. The French grow loads of them and keep them in France.

After a good half an hour, the onions will be a sticky, tasty mess.

Barbecued Faux Fillet (5 of 9)Keep them warm and get the steak seasoned and on to a very, very, hot barbecue.

Barbecued Faux Fillet (6 of 9)

Leave it for about as long as it takes to read a couple of sentences. Sentences about as long as these two. Then count to thirty and turn the steak over. It should be crispy and beginning to caramelise on one side. Repeat the timing thing and take the steak off. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice it and serve with ‘Very French Beans’ potatoes and those lovely caramelised onions. Barbecued Faux Fillet (8 of 9)

Enjoy a glass of that lovely red with this delicious, simple, very ‘French’ meal and then go to bed. You are tired. It must be nearly nine o’ clock and you have been up for twenty hours.

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Latest comments
  • Thank you – you have just sorted dinner for me!

    • Hi Fiona. Happy to help. A nice glass of that (or any other) St. Emilion would be nice with it.

  • If you’re going straight to bed after a nice big plate of rare beef, I think you need un petit digestif before dinner… say a couple of fingers of Pineau…? Otherwise there’ll be nightmares.

    • I managed to sneak a couple of bottles of Lillet back home with me. Pretty much the same deal. You are giving me ideas…

  • We’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn or before to do neat things on holidays. It makes for a long day but wonderful memories. If the market was good enough I would do the same thing!

    • In truth, it was great fun. But early to rise = early to bed, at my age.

      • Mine too. Kids give me no end of grief at my early bedtime during the week! I wish I was one of those people who could keep going on a few hours of sleep.

  • Simple and easy!

  • What a beautiful meal. I hate getting up early, but sometimes it has a magical feel.

    • Thanks Amanda. There really was very little to it. Hardly worth the post but, I have to stretch the holiday posting through the summer months.

  • One can never be too tired to enjoy a steak on the barbie and a nice glass of wine!

    • For sure. And there is the benefit of a good night’s sleep too!

  • You onions are perfectly cooked, as well as your steak! That’s an early morning, I’d be in bed by 9pm too!

    • Truth is I am usually in the sack by 10:00 anyway. Early to bed, early to rise and all that…

  • Well, I call it ‘sirloin strip’ and it is marinating waiting for me to finish talking to you . . . .and our ‘French’ beans DO come from Australia [thank the blessed Lord!]. And it will be just past one pm when I’ll finish and most of the day’s work will be ahead 🙂 !! Oh, the wine won’t be half as good as yours . . . .

    • That really was a fine drop (at a great price too). Lovely with the steak.

  • Pretty good effort for a sleep deprived Irish man :)! I love the way you folks get to “pop over” to France for a little holiday. I really want to go to that place…

  • Beautifully done. My mouth is watering from the photos.

    • Thanks Richard. Not a lot to it really. But, great ingredients = pretty tasty meals.

  • It always does take a while to get used to the oh my god I’ve got to have everything settled in the morning before it all shuts down routine of France. But, thankfully, the market is the best time of the day so worth the getting up early. Great looking meal. Especially for the weary. 😉

    • I do have a bit more to say about the French system in later posts in the series. All in jest, of course.

  • Wonderful meal. Great photo of the glowing charcoal!

    • Thanks Stefan. We ate very well over there. We really were spoiled with fantastic ingredients. More posts to follow…

  • Maybe it’s me but i don’t seem to mind waking up terribly early when on holiday for something special — and going to a market would definitely qualify. Just look at that meal you enjoyed! I’d gladly sacrifice a few hours’ sleep for that.

    • After the initial stunned stumbling around the bedroom, I’m pretty ok with it too John. I do love those markets, as you will see in Tuesday’s post.

  • ‘Tired and Emotional’ – that’s my stock-in phrase for ‘I can’t do the washing up tonight, I’m pissed’.

  • I do enjoy reading your tales of summer French Holidays and simple meals. Sounds like a fun and relaxing time was had. I love visiting your side of the pond when I can get there. Was just in Dublin last year and enjoyed the food, pubs and folk immensely.

    • You should give us a shout when you are over here. There is always a welcome mat out for our blog friends.

  • Interesting. I never knew where the phrase, “to be in the soup,” came from. Well, now I know. Ken

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