Fillet Steak, Red Bordeaux and a 60th Birthday


What a truly fantastic and relaxing week. May is my favourite month. Not only is it is filled with selfish Birthday treats but my favourite ingredients are coming into season! The days are light and longer, a natural prescription for the post February Vitamin D deficiencies we all seem to develop if my fellow London commuters are anything to go by! So, a May holiday break back to my favourite place in the world down at Lands End. I’ve been visiting this little village haven since I was seven where I ironically celebrated my own birthday. I will never forget the patio bbq and days spent thrashing around in the surf. Was it warmer in May 16 years ago or was I just better at embracing the cold!? However I am not the 60 year old this year that this post proudly boasts. This year, it only seemed natural that we’d return here to my pa’s mutual favourite home-away-from-home to celebrate his 60th Birthday. Smooth beer, fresh fish and chips, sea air by the lungful, feisty surf and the stickiest chocolate cake….what could we all want more!? Well….fillet steak and a flashy red bordeaux would go down nicely…?

RECOMMENDED ACCOMPANIMENT:  Mellow music, sunsets dog walks on the beach, lighthearted chatter, slurping, chewing, all topped off with a competitive and crude (at times) game of scrabble. Followed by coffee and chocolate cake! Seemed to work for us anyway!?


Serves 4

Green vegetables and some hearty homemade potato wedges are a great accompaniment here! The sweet, slow cooked juicy onions act as a delicious sauce that doesn’t detract from the flavour of the steak. Fillet steak, with very little flavoursome fat, is not the most notorious for being full of flavour hence why classic blue cheese or peppercorn sauce are often used. But I wanted a sauce here that wasn’t too powerful!

  • 4 fillet steaks
  • 2 large white onions
  • 2 red onions
  • Thyme leaves
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vegetables to serve
  • Hand cut potato wedges to serve
  1. If you can, remove the steaks from their packaging/wrapping in the morning and place on a wire rack or plate to ‘dry’ a little in the fridge.
  2. Start with the onions. Heat a frying pan to medium low heat. Slice the onions in half and then slice into think half moons. Heat 1-2 tbsp of light oil in the fry pan and very gently soften the onions for about 15 minutes. Keep the heat low and make sure they don’t begin to catch. You want to end up with lovely soft, sweet onions that are just begging to brown.
  3. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Add the chopped garlic and the thyme leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes or so. Once ready, cover and set aside but keep warm.
  4. Remove the steak from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. Season all over well with salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. If you like, slice a garlic clove in halve horizontally and use it to rub over the steak flesh. It just adds a subtle flavour. When ready to cook, heat a frying pan to a high heat. Fry the steaks on the below timings to your liking. As the last few seconds come around, spoon over about a 1tsp of butter per steak and baste.
  5. Its really important to rest the steak after! I cannot stress this enough especially with fillet steak! Don’t be tempted to just slap on the plate and eat. The meat needs to rest so the juices that are forced to the centre during cooking can settle out and diffuse out within the meat. This is where the flavour is! It also provides you with those all important juices for adding to your onions.
  6. Once cooked to your liking, place the steaks on a large piece of foil and wrap up tightly to rest and collect the juices. Rest for at least 10 minutes.
  7. Reheat the onions if needed and cook any vegetables you wish to serve with this
  8. After 10 minutes, open the foil and steaks. Pour and resting juices into the warm onions. Serve the steaks topped with a generous spoonful of juicy sweet onions to act as a sauce!

Cooking times:

I’m a medium rare steak lover so I always go for this timing so I’ll admit I’ve never tested the others accurately! But I presume they do the trick! All based on a 2cm thick steak. As a rough guide, add 1 minute for another cm.

Blue: 1 minute each side
Rare: 1½ minutes each side
Medium rare: 2 minutes each side
Medium: 2¼ minutes each side
Medium-well done: 2½ – 3 minutes each side.


Steak Choice:

Everyone seems to have their favourite steak cut and there are many that are simply not popularly seen especially in supermarkets. Each cut has a purpose and is great for different occasions, recipes or side dishes and sauces.  Below is a very brief guide to help with some of the more well known and eaten cuts. First, a few things to note when choosing.

FAT: The fat content is important for two reasons. It is where the flavour is! When it cooks, the fat melts into the meat. This not only adds flavour but helps keep the steak succulent!

LOCATION: The more tender the steak, the less work the muscle has done. Therefore, a relatively unused muscles such as the loin will be more tender, and therefore usually more expensive

Sirloin: melt-in-the-mouth and succulent with some fat marbling. Lots of flavour but lacks flavour compared to a rib eye for example.

Rump (and my favourite cut): A large steak with huge flavour. It needs a long time to hang and a good cooking time as it can be tough if rare.

Fillet/Loin: Buttery tender and soft. Little or no fat so therefore very little flavour. It also cannot be hung and aged for long. My advice on a day to day basis is to opt for any other steak for economical and flavour reasons as you’ll be much more satisfied!

Rib eye: Lots of fat marbling provides a rich flavour.

Minute steak: Thin, cheap, can be cooked quickly. It can be tough however but if often seen for use in sandwiches!

T bone: The cut is part sirloin, part fillet so the cooking time is hard to judge…and then there is the cumbersome bone…