How to braai fillet steak
A fillet is the most tender of all steaks due to the muscle’s location on the beef carcass. It is situated on the belly side of the spine, and thus does very little exercise during the animal’s life. It is a lean, boneless cut and contains almost no fat. On the negative side it is not the most flavoursome steak and has a tendency to dry out quickly. Overcooking is your greatest risk when braaing a fillet. Some people like to braai fillets whole and only slice them afterwards but I prefer to cut the fillet beforehand and braai single portions. This exposes a greater surface area of the meat to the searing heat of the fire, which adds more flavour, something fillet steak needs. The steaks should be cut fairly thick in order to have a nice and juicy medium rare inside while being completely seared and sealed on the outside. To achieve this, fillet steaks naturally need to be braaied on extremely high heat.
RECIPE BY JAN BRAAI
1 kg piece of fillet steak
salt, pepper and mustard powder
all the ingredients for the sauce of
1. Cut the fillet into 5 cm thick slices. This should give you about four slices per kilogram of fillet.
2. Grind salt and pepper onto all sides of each steak then dust mustard powder onto all sides of each steak as well. Wash your hands well then use your fingers to pat the condiments onto the steaks.
3. Braai over extremely hot coals for 8–10 minutes, making sure that all sides of each steak face the coals for at least 1 minute at a time. A 5 cmthick fillet steak will have at least four but possibly six sides.
4. Remove from the fire and let the steaks rest for a few minutes until serving. The time it takes for everybody to sit at the table, dish up their sides and pour the wine is probably enough.
Serve with your choice of sauce.
AND . . .
■ If you prefer to braai the fillet whole and only slice it afterwards, that is also an option. Sear it on very high heat for about 2 minutes per side (a whole fillet usually has three sides) and then adjust the heat down by either lifting the grid higher or scraping away some of the coals. Now let it braai over more gentle heat until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 57°C (and how will you know this? – by using your meat thermometer, obviously). Let it rest a few minutes and then carve. If the meat is too raw for some guests you can quickly sear the sides of their individual slices.
■ If you want your fillet steak portions to be as nicely shaped as in the photo then tie a piece of butcher string around each before braaing them.