Let’s get it Onglet

Beef Onglet and potato fondant with an egg and chive vinaigrette

I’ve been looking forward to today since I first received the Superior Cuisine documentation. Onglet de Boeuf, Pomme Fondant, Vinaigrette d’ouefs et Ciboulette. Beef Onglet with potato fondant with an egg and chive vinaigrette. Oh yes! I’ve cooked Onglet at home a couple of times and felt I never quite got it right. Now I learn from the masters.

Onglet is what we call skirt, not to be confused with American skirt steak. It was also called the butcher’s steak, once upon a time. In the US, onglet is part of what they call hanger steak because it hangs from the diaphragm. Hanger steak is considered the most tender cut of meat, apart from the tenderloin, which has no fat. Onglet has a coarse, open grain and does relatively little work so it’s tender. It’s a beefy meat, almost offaly with high blood content given its close proximity to the liver. This means it’s super tasty. In fact it is classed as offal. The cut is v-shaped with 2 halves separated by a long, inedible connective tissue, and it has a fair bit of different fats to trim away. Some nifty knife skills are required. Overall, about 40% of the weight is trimmings, much of which can be used to make a jus.

Chef said Onglet is best cooked over a very high heat to medium rare. I’ve tried rare and that’s great too. Don’t cook it past medium. The challenge is—the test for doneness doesn’t apply. You can be cooking Onglet for a while and it will still feel spongey and rare to the touch. The only way to know for sure is to use a temperature probe. Medium rare might need 8-9 minutes with regular, equally timed turns for even cooking. But how hot is hot when it comes to the pan? The meat needs a nice, long rest; at least 15 minutes.

Time to cook.

First up, hard boil an egg. An egg went into a pan of cold water. 10 minutes from the simmer then straight into iced water. Lightly tap the shell all around so the cold water can penetrate. This helps with peeling.

The Onglet was trimmed and marinated in olive oil, thyme, bay, rosemary and garlic. Trimmings were diced and browned in olive oil. The trimmings were decanted, the pan deglazed, and mirepoix of carrot, onion and celery browned. Tip here. If the meat sucs are close to burning before browning the mirepoix, it’s better to lift the sucs and put to the side. Then brown the mirepoix. The sucs are lifted with water and added back later. Anyway, red wine deglazed the pan. The trimmings were added back with stock and left to infuse with the occasional skim. The jus was later passed through damp muslin and reduced. BTW, muslin cloth is soaked and wrung out before use because then it won’t absorb any jus. Helpfully, it also grips the chinois or sieve better.

Garlic cloves were blanched in their skin—3 times; into cold water, bring to the boil, refresh, do it again. This creates a milder flavour and makes them easier to peel. The cloves were confit’ed in butter and a tablespoon of water, salt and pepper. Long and slow.

Fondant potato. Mmmmm. A chipping potato was washed, peeled and cut into blocks measuring 60mm long by 50mm wide and 80g in weight. The edges were bevelled with the peeler. This removes the sharp edges, which are quick to catch in the butter.

Two ways to cook ‘em—white and brown.

White first. Thick slices of butter were laid out in the pan. A block was seasoned and placed on top. As the butter melted, chicken stock was added and brought to the simmer. Into the oven. The potato was basted then carefully turned over after 20 minutes. 12 minutes of further basting and they were done.

Brown. Again, thick slices of butter, potato on top. This time the butter was allowed to go to beurre noisette to give the potato colour. When the potato was turned it was placed back into exactly the same place in the pan, which was easy to see because it was entirely clear of butter. Stock was added then into the oven. Boom.

The fondants were left to cool in their liquor then flashed for service. I cooked white fondants. I’ll have a go at the brown ones at home.

The Onglet was seasoned and went into hot oil. 1 minute a side to sear all over. The heat was then turned down to medium and the Onglet turned every minute onto each side for about 12 minutes. The heat was reduced to low, butter was added with thyme and rosemary, and once foaming the beef was basted for a few more minutes. It rested for 15 minutes. I wanted to rest it longer but time was running out.

For the vinaigrette, Dijon mustard was whisked with white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, then emulsified with olive oil. Finely diced shallot and chopped chives were added. The egg white was finely diced and the yolk passed through a drum sieve. These were folded into the vinaigrette. Garniture was spring onions, cooked l’étuvée with butter and stock from the fondant potato, and courgettes, turned to put a spike on the end, then steamed and halved lengthways for plating.

For service, the fondant potato was flashed in the oven with the Onglet at 140C for 3 minutes. The Onglet was then carved and rested for a few minutes. Chef said my Onglet was rare. Bugger. But it was also bloody soft and delicious. Best eaten with some Marvin Gaye.

Controversially, the jus was finished by whisking in beurre noisette rather than the more conventional cubes of very cold butter. Oh yeahhhh!

In demo, chef also cooked fried egg in spiced breadcrumbs with Bayonne ham in a red wine and shallot vinaigrette. Oeuf Frits au Pain d’Épices, Copeaux de Jambon de Bayonne, Vinaigrette aux Vin Rouge et Echalotes. Look at that!

Egg in spiced breadcrumbs with a Bayonne ham salad in a red wine and shallot vinaigrette

The breadcrumbs for the egg were made from Pain d’Épices. I’ve decided this is the best spiced bread or cake in the world. It’s just sooo goood! The blitzed crumbs were toasted in the oven at 110C for about an hour and half. They can be deceiving. It’s only possible to tell if they’re crispy enough once they’ve had time to cool. So be prepared to pop them in and out of the oven a few times. The crispy crumbs were blitzed again and sieved to remove the fine dust.

Baby aubergines we cut in half lengthways, scored, then baked in the oven under foil with olive oil, salt and a little water. When cooked, the pulp was scraped out of the skin, chopped into a mash and seasoned. Quenelles were made and returned to the skins. Rocket leaves were washed. Bayonne ham was cut into slices.

An egg was soft boiled. It started in cold water and was brought quickly to the simmer then timed for 5 minutes and refreshed in iced water. The shell was very carefully cracked in the iced water to aid peeling.

With the shell removed, the egg was dried, rolled in flour then egg wash, and dredged in the fine breadcrumbs. The egg was left to lie in the breadcrumbs while a vinaigrette was made with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil with finely diced shallot and thyme leaves. The vinaigrette was loaded into an aubergine skin. The first layer of breadcrumbs gets damp so another roll was necessary.

The egg was deep fried at 150C for about 90 seconds. A piece of baking sheet was placed into the fryer first to prevent the egg touching the bottom of the basket. Neat trick. When chef cut into the egg, it was perfectly runny. Mmmmm.

This was a weird dish. Sweet and savoury. It was gobbled up quickly. I think I liked it. I’m confused. I’ll have to try it again. Chef was kind enough to spread lashings of butter onto slices of the leftover Pain d’Épices, which was duly swooped on by us seagulls.