Here is the recipe I talked about with Grubby and Dee Dee today on 3aw’s The Weekend Program.
I brine the eye fillet in my simple beer brine for two to three days before smoking it in my wok on the stove. If you have never used a beer brine before you are in for a real treat and if you have never tea smoked in your wok before, well, what can I say? This may be your first time but it won’t be your last!
My beer of choice for this would be a good Red Ale such as Nail Red Ale, an IPA like Holgate Road Trip or an Amber Ale – my favourite is brewed by me so you will have to find another one. I pick these styles as the malt sweetness will wrap around the salty smokiness of the meat, making it taste even better.
I like to cook this dish at public cooking demos to show people how easy it is to do a little bit of home smoking and how delicious the result is. Of course I have to brine the fillet at home as the meat sits in the brine for several days. I also use this brine for lamb rack which I also smoke and for fish fillets – although for fish you only need to leave them in the brine for a couple of hours. The smoked eye filet goes brilliantly with my lentil salad, you’ve been warned!
Tea-smoked beer-brined eye fillet
1 eye fillet – approx 550 – 600g
200g of brown sugar
20 black pepper corns
3 bay leaves
3 pieces of lemon rind – no pith
1 litres of boiling water
2 litres of water
2 x 330mil bottles of dark ale, porter or stout.
Put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and lemon rind in a large pot and pour over the boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and then add in the cold water and beer and stir again. Put pot in the fridge to bring down the temperature. Once the brine is cool place the eye fillet in – it should be covered by the brine, cover the pot with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for two to three days turning the fillet each day.
Remove the fillet and pat dry with paper towels and place on a cake rack that is sitting on a plate. Put the plate in the fridge uncovered for 1 day so as to dry out the eye fillet – this is very important as the meat forms a pellicle which allows the smoke to stick to the meat.
½ cup of black tea
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of raw white rice
Mix all ingredients together well. Line a wok with three layers of Al Foil and pour the smoking mix in to the wok. Turn the heat to high and wait for the mix to begin to smoke, when it does place a wire rack in the wok and then place the eye fillet on to the rack over the smoking mix. Cover tightly and once the smoke is really going turn the heat down a little to a medium high. Smoke the eye filet until it reaches an internal temperature of between 63°c – 67°c. Depending on the thickness of the particular eye fillet you bought this may take anywhere from 25 mins – 40 mins. In fact when you buy your eye fillet try and get one that has uniform thickness from end to end that way when you cook it you won’t end up with a dry over cooked thin end and an under done thick end.
When cooked remove from the wok and allow to rest while you put some lentil salad in the middle of a plate in a kind of long oblong shape. Slice the meat in half centre meter slices and arrange 4 – 5 slices over and along the lentil salad.
Serves 4 – 6
Lentil, Parsley and Tomato Salad
This is one of those salads that I am happy to eat on its own for lunch or to serve up as a perfect accompaniment to whatever else I have cooked be it a steak, barbequed quail or some roast chicken. My favourite thing to serve this with though is my tea smoked eye fillet page xx it is fantastic and a great dinner party dish.
1 ½ cups of brown lentils
1 clove of garlic smashed
2 bay leaves
12 large cherry tomatoes – halved then halves cut into three
½ Spanish red onion – finely sliced
2 Lebanese cucumbers – peeled and cut into large dice
1 tablespoon of small capers
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
12 caper berries – optional but tasty
5tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of balsamic
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic – crushed
1 teaspoon of seeded mustard
Pinch of Salt
Put lentils, smashed garlic and bay leaves into saucepan with 6 cups of cold water. Place pan on high heat and bring to the boil then turn down and simmer for 15 – 20 mins or until the lentils are al dente. Strain, remove and discard the garlic and bay leaf then allow lentils to cool.
For the dressing put the olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, mustard, salt and pepper into a jar and shake well to combine – taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Combine the rest of the salad ingredients into a salad bowl and add the warm lentils then give it all a mix to combine. Pour over the dressing and mix again to combine well.
One year ago today Merc’s Bier Cafe opened its doors to the first paying customers. It was a fairly long road getting there with a variety of speed humps, hurdles and difficulties to work around but we got there. I still remember the very first customers coming in – well the first customers to sit down to order and eat my food – it was like jumping off a cliff for me, all the hard work to open was done now the real work and test began….would they like it….would people come? It was a resounding yes!
The next two and a half months were crazy – crazy busy, crazy hard, crazy exciting and ultimately crazy disappointing. It was certainly a baptism of fire on many levels and sadly a fire in which my dream of having my own place would be burnt to the ground not literally but figuratively. Two and a half months of crazy and I had to walk away – not from my dream because that had already gone by this time, but from the business. Put simply it was devastating, I walked away from some great people – my kitchen team that worked so hard and were so committed to my food and our customers.
Stories of business partnerships falling apart are a dime a dozen and my business partnership breakdown is by no means unique it is, in fact, as mundane as all the rest of them. I won’t bore you with the details but I will say I never lied to anyone, I never lost the vision, I treated everyone with respect and at all times endeavoured to act with the utmost of integrity. Along the way I made a few mistakes and learnt from them however the biggest mistake was to believe that everyone else involved in the business would act and behave in that same manner as me.
I effectively left Merc’s Bier Cafe on the 13th December and put in my written termination around the 20th of that same month. I have often said I walked away with nothing which is not true at all. I did walk away without any payment for all of my work or any thanks for that matter. I did walk away with a debt that was promised to be repaid and still hasn’t been in full. I did walk away with some new friends and a raft of experiences that over time I have come to learn some invaluable things from. As Richard Bach wrote in (I think) Illusions of a Reluctant Messiah – “there is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hand’. The problem that was Merc’s Bier Cafe most certainly held a great gift for me and I have gradually over the course of the last 10 months unravelled those gifts and count myself lucky to be the recipient of them.
Merc’s Bier Cafe ceased to be in the first week of February – although some say it ceased to be the day I left.
So today I thank all those involved in those early days for the effort, commitment and passion you put in to making Merc’s happen. I also apologise for the hurt caused along the way – I tried to put that right as best I could. I know there are still a lot of us hurting and I am angry about that – some say “that’s business” but that is not how I will do business.
Merc’s will live another day, I will do it my way with the lessons learnt and with the friends I have made.
Some say love is in the air (how many times have I heard that?) but I say spring is in the air. Only by a bit, but the sun does seem a little warmer and that icy wind now has some dulcet tones which encourages one to clean up the backyard and get the barbie ready for party central.
Okay, so you may still be wearing a light vest whilst out the back but I am sure your thoughts, like mine, are turning to slightly lighter styles of beer after winter’s reign of stouts and porters. Food-wise it is a little too early for seafood salad, jelly shots and pilsner — it’s more like good old pale ale or perhaps an amber or hefeweizen and something hearty but with a lighter side.
That said, dammit! Go for a pils, celebrate the arrival of spring and with it I say have some nacho. Not just any nachos though, you deserve my Nachos Extraodinaire for a perfect early Spring afternoon lunch.
Back in the old days when I was a student at the Australian Ballet School I used to work at the local Mexican fast-food restaurant and the trick to good nachos, I discovered, was to set the corn chips in the beans so they stood up like cathedrals, allowing the toppings to fall in between and give you a lovely taste surprise with each mouthful.
…read the rest, plus the recipe, at Australian Brews News.