In my Dec. 4 column, I wrote about how to break down a whole beef tenderloin into three parts and trim them into steaks. The following recipes are classic French ways of cooking these three sections of the tenderloin. They make great meals for the holidays ahead. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year. Thank you for reading my column.
Chateaubriand Au Poivre with Port Wine Sauce
Use the fully trimmed center cut of the tenderloin. It will weigh about 2 1/2 pounds and will feed six people. Sprinkle the meat with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and refrigerate overnight.
Purchase 2 pounds of beef marrow bones and place them in a shallow roasting pan. Cook them in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes and add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots and 2 stalks of celery, chopped. Cook another 20 minutes and remove.
Put the bones and vegetables in a soup pot and cover with cold water. Deglaze the roasting pan on the stove with 1 cup water and add to the stock. Bring the stock to a boil, turn the heat down to a low simmer and season with 3 sprigs of thyme, 6 parsley stems and a bay leaf tied together with string. Add 12 whole peppercorns and simmer for 4 hours. Strain and refrigerate overnight.
Note: Making this stock from scratch sounds troublesome, but you cannot substitute commercial stock in this recipe.
The next day, let the meat come to room temperature, brush with canola oil and sprinkle 2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns on the meat. Chop 1 cup of onion and 1/2 cup each of carrot and celery. Put this mixture in a small roasting pan and place the meat on top. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. The internal temperature should be about 100 degrees. Remove the meat from the pan and cover with foil in a warm place for 30 minutes.
For the sauce, remove the stock from the refrigerator and take off the top layer of solidified fat. Add the stock to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it reduce to about 2 cups.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and add 1/4 cup chopped shallots. When soft, add 1/4 cup brandy, 2 sprigs of rosemary and 2 sprigs of thyme. As the brandy reduces, add 1 cup port wine and 2 cups of the reserved brown stock.
Deglaze the roasting pan from the meat with a cup of water and strain into the sauce. Let the sauce reduce by half and strain. Whisk in 2 tablespoons cold butter just before serving over the sliced tenderloin.
Filet Mignon Béarnaise
For this recipe use the 4 small steaks cut from the ends of the center cut tenderloin above. They should weigh about 4 ounces each.
Bring the filets to room temperature, brush with canola oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place them on a hot grill pan on the stove, mark them in a crosscut pattern and cook on each side about 4 minutes for medium rare.
For the sauce, chop 12 leaves of fresh tarragon and add them to a small saucepan along with 1/4 cup minced shallots and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar. Let this reduce to 2 tablespoons and strain. When cool, add this reduction to 3 egg yolks.
Place the egg yolk mixture in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk until the yolks become creamy and lightly thickened. Gradually whisk in 1 cup melted butter, beginning with a few drops to start the emulsion then to a constant stream of butter until the sauce thickens like mayonnaise. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and serve on the side with the steaks.
For this recipe use the 6 small steaks cut from the head portion of the tenderloin. They should weigh about 3 ounces each.
Bring the steaks to room temperature and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet very hot and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the steaks and brown quickly on each side. Carefully add 1/4 cup brandy to the pan and ignite with a match. When the flame dies down, remove the steaks to a warm place.
Turn the heat down and add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan along with 1/4 cup chopped shallots and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Swirl in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1/2 cup heavy cream, bring to a boil and serve with the steaks.
If desired, sauté mushroom caps as a garnish along with chopped parsley.
For this recipe use the tenderloin back strap, which has been cut into 12 small pieces and flattened with a mallet.
Heat a large sauté pan and add 2 tablespoons butter. Season the tenderloin tips with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Add them to the pan and brown at high heat for 3 minutes. Remove the meat and turn down the heat.
Add 1 cup chopped onion and cook until soft. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup beef stock and let the sauce come to a boil. When it thickens, stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Add back the meat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
If desired, sauté 1 package of sliced mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter and add to the meat. Serve the stroganoff over wide noodles.
John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. Email: [email protected].