Peter Gordon's iconic dish, beef pesto.
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Beef Pesto

Peter Gordon, The Sugar Club, Auckland, New Zealand - January 19th, 2014

“This was our hallmark dish at the Wellington Sugar Club, and now,” says Peter Gordon, “27 years later, it features on the menu at The Sugar Club in Auckland and also at The Providores in Marylebone. I have no idea how I came up with the idea of marinating beef in soy and vinegar (it even sounds odd now when I think about it), but people would come into the restaurant just to have it. When we first opened in London in 1995, we would get New Zealanders phoning up to ask if I was the same chef that had created beef pesto in Wellington, and would we please put it on the menu for their birthday, wedding, anniversary, et cetera. It may sound a little odd, but then I’m told so much of my food is, but it really works. You could use ready-made pesto, or make your own from my recipe below.”

Serves 8 (requires advanced preparation)

Pesto:
(Makes 1 good-sized jar)

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 350ml olive oil
  • 120g pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 120g Parmesan, finely grated
  • extra virgin olive oil

Place garlic, herbs, olive oil, and pine nuts into food processor; puree to coarse paste; tip into mixing bowl; stir in Parmesan and enough oil to reach desired consistency; cover in airtight container; reserve.

Assembly:

  • 400ml tamari (or 500ml soy sauce)
  • 400ml cider vinegar
  • 1 red chile, moderately hot
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1.5 kg piece of mid beef fillet, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 350ml olive oil, plus more for beef
  • 1/2 bunch (about 400g) chard, shredded thinly, stems and all, and washed well to remove dirt
  • 3 zucchini, julienned
  • 2 med. beets, peeled and finely julienned
  • 200g black olives
  1. Combine tamari, 120ml cold water, 250ml cider vinegar, chile, and 6 garlic cloves in a blender; puree to fine consistency, about 30 seconds; lay fillet in long dish, just large enough to hold it; pour marinade over; cover with cling film; reserve in refrigerator at least 2 days, up to 4 days, turning fillet every 12 hours.

  2. One hour prior to cooking, remove fillet from marinade, draining well; dry with a cloth; cut it into 8 equal pieces; reserve.

  3. Blend 6 garlic cloves, 150ml cider vinegar, grain mustard, salt, pepper, and oil until smooth; pour into large bowl.

  4. Boil salted water in large pot; add chard, stirring well; after 30 seconds, add zucchini; stir; cook 1 minute; strain; add hot vegetables to garlic dressing; stir well; add beets; stir; reserve in warm place 5 to 10 minutes.

  5. Heat skillet or grill to high heat.

  6. Lightly oil cut sides of fillet; place on grill; cook no more than 2 minutes per side.

  7. To serve, divide beet salad among 8 warmed plates; set a piece of fillet on top; place the olives around fillet; drizzle 1 cup pesto among plates.