Moutarde, feminine noun (de la moutarde, une moutarde, des moutardes) = mustard (pronounced moo-tard, no particular stress).
Mustard was used as a condiment in very ancient times, by the Egyptians and the Chinese notably. It was used by the Greeks and the Romans in cooking and for medicinal purposes (antiseptic and digestive). It is made by macerating the seeds of the mustard plant in vinegar, wine, must or water and then crushing them to a pulp.
Mustard in France is used a lot in cooking and not simply as a condiment; it is always quite strong and hardly ever sweet. It is made mainly in the Dijon area in Burgundy in east central France, where wine and vinegar are obviously in plentiful supply. But there are other regional mustards (Meaux, Bordeaux) where the main difference is in the wine or vinegar used.
The expression “la moutarde me monte au nez” (which is also the title of a French film) (literally that sort of feeling in your nose when you eat mustard (wasabi often!), a sort of burning, almost wanting to sneeze) means that you are getting more and more impatient or angry.
My recipe for today is filet de bœuf, sauce moutarde (pan fried filet of beef with mustard sauce).
Per person you will need:
- 150gr to 200gr filet of beef
- a small piece of butter
- 1tsp strong French mustard (moutarde de Dijon)
- 1 tbs liquid cream
- 30gr blue cheese (St Agur, Roquefort…)
- 1tbs cognac, armagnac or Calvados
- Before cooking your steak, prepare a green salad with lettuce and tomato. Heat the oven to very low and put a plate per person to warm.
- Prepare the basis of your sauce: mix together the mustard, cream and blue cheese into a paste.
- Put a heavy frying pan to heat, add a little butter and fry your steak on both sides to suit your taste (I like my steak rare, my slice was about 1.5cm thick (almost 2cm), I cooked it for 3mns on the first side, and about 2mns on the second). The butter makes a nice brown crust.
- Remove the steak to your heated plate and keep it warm in the oven.
- Wipe the pan to remove the butter, which will have burnt a little. But do not wipe so thoroughly that you remove any bits of steak and juices that may have stuck to the pan. Off the heat (the pan will still be very hot), pour in the alcohol of your choice and stir, scratching up pan juices. Most of the alcohol will evaporate immediately.
- Add the sauce mixture and put the pan back on very low heat. Stir to melt the cheese and heat the sauce, but leave a few lumps of cheese, it looks more rustic on the plate that way.
- Pour the sauce over your steak, add the garnish of salad leaves and tomato, add pepper if you wish, but little or no salt, the cheese is often salty enough. Chips (French fries) are good too of course, but I’m off chips at the moment.