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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Elegant Dinner

When we prepare the beef tenderloins for the annual holiday party, there are always great trimmings.  We've never quite figured out what to call the piece that's about a pound or pound and a half that looks like a small roast.  We thought it was the chateaubriand but later read that that's a part of the big tenderloin.  At any rate, we had one of the pieces still frozen.  Since I'm still working on cleaning out the freezer, I decided the next three meals would be beef, swordfish and lamb chops.  Back in about 1984, I created a stuffing for lamb chops.  It's been my go-to recipe since then.  Last night, I decided to try stuffing the beef with the same.  Since I had a package of button mushrooms and another of portabellas - both of which needed to be used up - and since we're going to have lamb chops Monday night, it made sense to just make a big batch of stuffing.

Lamb Chop Stuffing
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped and sauteed
2 chicken livers, sauteed and chopped very finely
1/4 c chopped, cooked bacon
1 tsp thyme or tarragon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, very finely minced
1/2 c red wine, more if needed to keep the stuffing moist
2T shaved parmesan

Sautee the mushrooms until almost dry.  Add the onion and garlic and some of the wine if necessary.   Cook until the onion is softened.  Mix in the other ingredients and stir to combine.

Now, for those of you who run screaming from the room at the thought of liver, you can undoubtedly leave it out.  But, it really plays well with the other flavors and you cant' really tell it's there.  So, be brave, try the stuff.

Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

1-2 lb piece of tenderloin
1 c stuffing (above)
2 T olive oil
1 T flour
2 t beef base
1 c red wine
1 T butter

Cut a pocket in the center of the tenderloin, leaving about an inch at either end.  Stuff the tenderloin with the stuffing and tie it in 3-4 places.  We use the cooking rubber bands.  They're so easy to use!  Heat your oven to 400.  Put the tenderloin in a baking dish or pan and roast it for 15 min.  Yes, I know you usually brown it first.  But, Cooks Illustrated just did an article on tenderloins and they found that it's better to brown it after roasting.  So, I tried it that way.  When the tenderloin comes out of the oven, start the olive oil.  Get it to the shimmering point in a heavy skillet.  Brown the tenderloin, being very careful not to cook it too long.  Remove the tenderloin from the skillet and put it aside to rest.  Tent aluminum foil over it to keep it warm.  Pour the pan drippings from roasting the beef into the olive oil.  There shouldn't be much  Add the flour to the olive oil and stir until the flour is cooked.  Pour in some red wine, stirring constantly.  Once that's thickened, add the beef base and the rest of the red wine.  Stir until it's thickened.  Add the butter last to give the sauce polish.  It'll change the color and texture and flavor.  Slice the tenderloin.  Put a puddle of sauce on each plate and lay a slice of tenderloin on the sauce.

Along with the beef, I made a variation of rosemary potatoes and Daddy's fried potatoes.  He always sliced the potatoes and fried them in bacon fat with salt and pepper as the seasoning.  I sliced them thinly and slowly cooked them in olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic and crushed rosemary to season.  They cooked for about an hour and a half and were perfect.  Some were crunchy, some were melt in your mouth soft.  YUM!

We also tried a mixture of cauliflower and asparagus roasted and drizzled with the lemon juice and soy sauce, then sprinkled with sesame seeds.  They were good but not as good as the broccoli was done the same way.

Last but not least, I made an onion herb focaccia bread.  New recipe and pretty easy.  Stretch refrigerated pizza dough out on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle some olive oil over it then rub it around to cover the entire surface.  Sprinkle it with sea salt (I grind mine,) crushed rosemary and a bit of red pepper flakes.  Set aside until puffy - about an hour.  Make dimples with your fingers.  Then sprinkle with very finely sliced red onion (about half of a medium one) and about 1/2 c shaved parmesan.    Bake for 17 min at 400.

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