Well friends, here comes my big gun. I was going to hold this one back, sort of like the ace up my sleeve, mostly due to the fact that I knew this was going to be a lot to type and I have an agonizingly painful arthritis in my wrist. But I now realize it isn't getting better any time soon, so best to chop it out now while I can still type. The ladygirls will have to take over the helm till I heal, and God only knows what kind of modern, fusion type fare they'll decide to tempt your taste buds with!
This may be your last Old School recipe for a while to come. You have probably never even heard of this before, it's so old fashioned. But this was always my big one for blowing the roof off the joint. But, like all of my recipes, it's just smoke and mirrors. Lots of razzmatazz on the serving platter, but pretty damn easy if you're organized. I'm going to put out the image now so you can get the idea.
It consists of a beef tenderloin served no more than medium rare, surrounded by an assortment of vegetables. I know. It seems like a pretty stupid idea. And unless you've ever tasted it, it is. You can find way more economical ways to spend your money. A sexy new leather purse just to start. But I digress. This meal will seal the deal. Whatever it is you seek, shall be yours if you serve this meal to the powers that be.
So lets get our ass to class. Cooking class 202. You'll need:
Beef tenderloin. The last one I made served 15 people and I used a whole beef tenderloin. Cost $85.00.
So if you buy a 2 pound tenderloin, plan to serve 6 people. Plan on just under a half a pound per person.
Vegetables to surround the meat. This meal is has a visual impact, so plan to have lots of colour.
Baby carrots, asparagus, red pepper, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and if you like - potatoes. Potatoes are not characteristic to Chateaubriand, but I could never get away with not serving them in my house, so I use them. But I only ever use those small potatoes. They seem much more gourmet to me. Chopped parsley for garnish. Each vegetable has to be prepared on it's own and with lots of flavour.
I told you this was going to be a task. Not so much for you, but for me to type with a sore wrist. Plus you need a Bearnaise sauce. If you prefer to make that from scratch, I can make a separate post for that. But the truth be told, you'll be fine if you buy a package (or 2 if you're serving a crowd) of Knorr-Swiss Bearnaise sauce. I find it tastes every bit as good (or possibly better) than the one I make from scratch. And I only make from scratch if I can get my hands on fresh tarragon.
The meal is all about timing. All of the vegetable dishes need to be prepped before you put the meat into the oven. And you cook them as you go from longest to cook forward. Before I do anything, I par-boil the potatoes (par-boil is cooking speak for don't boil them for long because they're going to be cooked again). So if they're small, then they're new potatoes, so you don't have to peel them. Yay! just scrub them with water and throw them into a pot of salted water. Bring them up to the boil for about 7 or 8 minutes and turn off the pot and forget about them.
The baby carrots are going to be boiled for about 13 minutes and then doused with butter and brandy and kept warm until serving. So be prepared for that. The asparagus can be grilled or roasted or steamed for just about 6 minutes. So snap off the tough bottoms and set them to go with whatever method you choose. Steaming is the easiest. They can just go in small bunches on the platter. No need to embellish because they'll pick up the flavours on the plate.
The red peppers need to be sliced along with a sweet onion and 2 cloves of garlic and they will be sauteed for about 10 minutes in olive oil and salt and pepper. The potatoes will be thrown into the roasting pan with the meat for about 20 minutes. Turn them in the pot to make sure they don't burn on one side. Slice the tomatoes in half and they will sit on a cookie sheet with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese and a dab of butter and they will roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees when the meat comes out of the oven to rest. And the mushrooms will saute in butter like happy sliced mushrooms are wont to do! Ten minutes will do it.
Phew! Still with me? So, onto the meat then! Since you've spent your pay cheque in beef, let's not screw this up. I don't own a meat thermometer, so I don't even know how to give you guidance if you were to own one. We're cooking old school here. So here is my formula. 20 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes over, and then 20 minutes to rest. Now most of you probably don't even know what a pound is. So let's say 44 minutes per kilo. PLUS 20 minutes over to rest. I'm not a math major, but if the beef is 2 pounds, then it will cook in the oven for 40 minutes, but don't forget, you do 20 minutes over. Therefore, actually 60 minutes. And it will sit on the counter, covered in tin foil for an additional 20 minutes resting. I will get one of the ladygirls to come in and edit the math for you since I become a brain dead jellyfish when it comes to this sort of thing, and they both have university degrees. BUT I do know this. You will need to have a strong magazine such as a Vogue at the ready to fan your smoke alarm when it goes off because we are going to roast this meat at 450 degrees. Yes. That's right. 450 degrees for the first 20 minutes. Then we turn it down to 425 degrees and throw the potatoes in. Your smoke alarm will go off for sure. But that's just the way it has to be to get the char on the outside that we need. If you are cooking an entire beef tenderloin for 15 people, cut the whole thing in half and treat the cooking time as though it's one piece. ie assume it's 3 pounds and go from there. Some people would say to brown it first on the stove and cook it on a lower temperature from there, but you won't get the flavour and the juiciness. So I don't recommend that way. Plus it isn't nearly as thrilling and high adventure as the high heat method. Rub your meat with butter and add salt and freshly ground pepper and some dried tarragon and place it in a roasting pan and away you go! Keep it in the oven for an extra 5 minutes per pound if you like medium. If you want it more well done than that, skip over this recipe and make a chicken or something else. Put it out on a carving board covered with tin foil to rest, but surround the board with lots of paper towel in case lots of juice flows out. (it will be quite bright red, but don't be alarmed by this. It continues to cook as it rests)
The meat is the star of this show. Prepare all the vegetables using the timetable above. When you're ready to serve, carve the meat into 1/2 inch thick slices, but keep them all together and lay them in the centre of the platter. Pour the sauteed mushrooms over the top and allow the excess butter in the pan to flow over the meat slices. Then portion out each of the vegetables around the meat on the outer perimeter of the platter into groupings of however many people you have. Or six portions at the max. So say carrots, then tomatoes, then asparagus, then red peppers then carrots again and so on all around the platter. And place the potatoes around attractively and sprinkle the whole lot with chopped fresh parsley. Serve the Bearnaise sauce on the side. The outer slices will be more well done than the centre slices, so your guests can choose the doneness to their liking. Serve this meal with the very best, full bodied red you can afford. A Cabernet Sauvignon will do it the most justice.
Now this meal was more typing than actual cooking. It goes fast. The whole meal goes on the table in less than an hour of cooking time. And I must tell you that your guests will be bloody well amazed. You will even be astounded with yourself! I hope this will become your big gun meal too. It's delicious and not difficult. I find it to be much less trouble than a turkey dinner for a crowd. And I pray you have a self cleaning oven! Bon Appetit friends! See you again when my wrist heals and onto more and more recipes soon! xoxo