500g/1lb 2oz shallots, peeled
3 tbsp black peppercorns
flaked sea salt
1kg/2¼lb fillet of beef
small bunch of thyme leaves
1 tbsp demerara sugar
roast potatoes and buttered spinach, to serve
For the sauce:
4 tbsp brandy
250ml/8fl oz beef stock
150ml/5fl oz double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
2. Place the shallots in a pan of boiling water and blanch for a couple of minutes. Drain and put to one side.
3. Coarsely crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar or mini-blender. Put on a plate with 1 tbsp salt and roll the beef fillet over the mixture, pressing firmly so it sticks to the flesh.
4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a roasting tray and when its very hot, quickly fry the fillet until it's browned all over. Remove from the heat and scatter the blanched shallots and thyme around the fillet. Sprinkle the shallots with the sugar and a little oil. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes for rare beef, 40 minutes for medium, or 50 minutes for well-done. Halfway through the cooking time, turn the shallots in the tray. Once they are cooked, remove the beef and shallots from the tray, taking out any thyme stalks, and keep warm to rest.
5. For the sauce, place roasting tin over a high heat, add the brandy and set alight. When the flames have died down, stir in the beef stock and boil for 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. It is now ready to serve with the rested fillet of beef, sweet roasted shallots, and perhaps some roast potatoes and buttered spinach