Roast Beef Fillet with Yorkies and Cauliflower Cheese

Roast Beef Fillet with Yorkies and Cauliflower Cheese.jpg

Serves 6

For the Beef & Gravy

  • 1kg roast beef fillet, middle cut
  • salt & pepper
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 10 shallots, peeled (baby onions can be substituted)
  • 20 small button mushrooms
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 tablespoon best quality powdered beef fond 
  • 200ml water
  • 20g butter
  • 4 thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 190ºC. Season the fillet well. Place a heavy bottomed pan on the stove and heat until smoking hot, add 50ml of the oil and the seasoned beef. Brown on all sides; the more colour, the better the flavour. Remove the beef and lower the heat. Give the pan a quick wipe with a paper towel to remove excess black and add the remaining oil, followed by the peeled shallots. Brown for 5 min, then add the mushrooms and continue to colour for a further 2 min. These vegetables should fill the bottom of the pan. Place the fillet on top of the shallots and onions and transfer the pan to the oven for approximately 15-20 min. The vegetable base is known as a ‘trivet’ in the industry; it prevents the meat or fish from making contact with the bottom of the pan, as this causes uneven cooking.

After 15 mins, pierce the meat through the middle with a poultry lancer or metal skewer and leave it in the meat for 5 seconds. Remove it quickly, and run the lancer across your top lip. You are checking the core temperature of the meat, which should be moderately warm; if it is hot, the meat will be well done, if it is cold, the meat is undercooked. The ideal temperature is around 54ºC for rare, 59ºC for medium-rare and 64ºC for medium. (A meat thermometer is a slightly more conventional method, but not as much fun as the poultry lancer or metal skewer.) Leave the meat to rest in a roasting pan and place the pan back on the stovetop. Bring the mushrooms and shallots up to a high heat and add the wine, reduce it by half, add the water, and stir in the fond. Once the mixture has thickened to a nice gravy consistency, add the juices from the beef and stir in the butter and the thyme sprigs. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary.

For the Yorkies

Roast Beef Fillet with Yorkies and Cauliflower Cheese2.jpg
  • 200ml cake flour
  • 200ml eggs
  • 200ml full cream milk
  • 2g salt
  • 120ml vegetable oil

Whisk or blend all the ingredients together except for the oil. The batter can be used immediately, there is no need to make it a long time in advance; I get better results if I make the batter just before I bake them. Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Place 6 small, low-sided omelette pans in the oven until they are smoking hot. Add 20ml of oil to each pan, followed immediately by a ladle of Yorkie batter (100ml)—the batter should start to fry as it hits the hot oil. If it is not hot enough, return the oiled pans to the oven for a few more minutes. After 12–15 min the yorkies should be well risen and a good golden colour. Flip them upside down and bake for a further 4–5 min to allow excess oil to drip off, and for the Yorkies to harden a little—this sets the shape and gives them an extra-crisp texture. Remove them from the oven to a wire rack to cool, or serve immediately.

For the Cauliflower Cheese

  • 40g cake flour
  • 40g butter
  • 500ml milk, scalded
  • 30g smooth cream cheese
  • 50g grated mature cheddar cheese
  • a pinch of salt
  • 600g cauliflower florets, boiled for 4 minutes and drained well

Add the flour and butter to a saucepot and cook on moderate heat for 3 min. Do not colour the roux. Start ladling the milk into the pot over medium heat while whisking all the time. Once all the milk has been incorporated and the sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat, whisk in the 2 cheeses, and add a pinch of salt. Immediately spoon the sauce over the hot cauliflower, or if it is to be used later on, place a piece of greaseproof paper directly on top of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming—and reheat slowly before using.

Enjoy this recipe with one of South Africa’s best wines, go to

Photography C & D Helerli • Recipes Peter Templehoff