23 November 2008

the swiss reason

I like cheese. Lots of it.

If I get some cheese, some bread, and maybe a bit of red wine and a small salad, I have my perfect meal.

That is, perfect as long as it is summer.

During the cold (or rather wet and windy) time of the year, I need something heartier. So it is molten cheese in any variety that I can get my grubby hands on.

When my mother-in-law first suggested to make her 'Swiss Ragout', I was intstantly excited. Meat, mushrooms and cheese, how good was that? It was great, and has since then become a household staple in my own kitchen.

Admittedly, I have yet to find out what is so 'Swiss' about the recipe that it deserves the name, apart from the fact that someone has added cheese. But, on the other hand, that already is a good enough reason for almost anything in my book.

You can't have such a thing as too much cheese, can you?

Ragout Suisse
(serves four)

800g to 1 kg of porc filet
500g (button) mushrooms
500ml cream
1 large bundle of chives
1 small glass brandy (Cognac or similar)
salt & pepper
at least 300g cheese (Fontina or similar)

If necesary, pare the meat, and cut into slices no more than half a centimeter thick.

Clean the mushrooms, also cut into slices. Chop the chives.
Cutting chives with scissors helps saving time and also makes less of a mess, at least for me.

Grate the cheese, or if it is too soft, cut into slices or cubes as small as you can comfortably handle.
You could also take a more neutral cheese like Gouda, but we usually prefer Fontina or Gruyere, as the cheese adds a lovely note the the whole dish that can comfortably be a little more pronounced. And of course, there can never be such a thing as too much cheese...

In a heavy, high-rimmed pan, heat some clarified butter and fry the meat at highest temperature until it catched colour; the meat does not yet have to be completely done.

Deglaze with the brandy, then set the meat aside.
If you are cooking with guests, this is the perfect opportunity for some show-offish fireworks. Or to set yourself and the kitchen ablaze. Please consider carefully.

In the same pan, add the mushrooms and maybe another bit of brandy. Stir occasonally until the mushrooms initial moisture has mostly evaporated and the first slices start getting golden.

Add the chives and the cream, heat until the sauce starts bubbling. Maybe thicken the sauce a little with some flour mixed in a little bit of cold water.

Return the meat to the sauce and reheat. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Pout the meat and the sauce into a wide, oven-proof dish and evenly cover with the cheese.
Of course, if you have an oven-proof pan, you can just keep everything in there.

Put in the oven underneath the pre-heated grill until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
Depending on the oven, this might take a moment, so I try not to overcook the meat in the first place as it will have ample time to get done in here.

Enjoy with bread, or along some pasta or rice, with some fresh white wine.


angelica said...

Truer words have never been spoken -- you can indeed never have too much cheese!

Reuben Morningchilde said...

@angelica - I knew I wasn't alone with that sentiment! Thanks for commenting, and thanks for the cinnamon doughnut recipe.