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Back in 2000 I was waiting to go back into hospital for an operation only for my appointment to be cancelled. On the date I should have been going into hospital there was a literary lunch being held at Raymond Blanc's le petit Blanc in Cheltenham (where I was living at the time). I eagerly rang up to see if I could get a ticket but they had sold out months before. Not to be deterred I persuaded the organisers to let me turn up in case there was a late cancellation. To my delight there was.

Apart from Raymond Blanc as host, the celebrities were Michel Roux, Rick Stein and Sophie Grigson. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and after the lunch I briefly got to meet and talk to Michel Roux . . . another ambition fulfilled.

Michel RouxThis recipe was produced by kind permission of Michel Roux and comes from his recently published book "Life is a Menu". My wife and I so enjoyed this recipe that it was a must to publish it. Monsieur Roux's comment about this recipe was:

"This dish is quick to prepare and cook, and is very luxurious. Never overcook it! A perfect garnish would be rice pilaf, steamed potatoes or fresh pasta, the latter a favourite with Cécile de Rothschild. Taking so little time to prepare, this is an ideal dish when guests turn up without warning."

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for Boeuf Stroganoff

750g beef fillet trimmed
60g clarified butter
50ml cognac
30g unsalted butter
60g chopped shallots
100ml dry white wine
200ml veal or chicken stock
300ml double cream
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
75g small French gherkins (cornichons)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

How to make Boeuf Stroganoff

Preparing the beef:

  • Cut the fillet of beef into long and thick strips (goujonnettes) of approximately 10 cm long and 2 cm wide.
  • Put the clarified butter in a very hot frying pan and seal all the goujonnettes very quickly for about 1 minute, to lightly brown.
  • Pour in the cognac, ignite it and then transfer the meat to a colander placed over a plate. At this stage, the meat must be very rare.

Making the sauce:

  • In the same frying pan, melt the unsalted butter and sweat the shallots.
  • Add the white wine and reduce the liquid by half.
  • Add the veal or chicken stock, and let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the cream, paprika and lemon juice.
  • Reduce the sauce until it lightly coats the back of a spoon.
  • Season to taste.
  • Pass the sauce through a conical strainer and reheat.
  • Put the goujonnettes back into the boiling sauce.
  • Simmer the meat for 30 seconds if you want it rare and for 1 - 2 minutes if you prefer it medium to well done.

To serve:

  • Add the gherkins to the meat and sauce and pour into a deep dish. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Michel Roux