For the steak lover, this month’s recipe and pairing will have you over the moon. Many people are afraid to prepare a tenderloin in their own home, but I urge you to give it a try. It’s all about patience, as most home chefs under-season, under-sear, and then overcook. Remember, seasoning at the beginning of a recipe brings out flavor, while seasoning at the end makes foods salty. As for the sear, it’s really about getting your pan as hot as possible. I personally like to use cast iron, which absorbs and distributes heat evenly. Read through the whole recipe before starting, and don’t be intimidated by the amount of steps here. Remember that a number of these items can be prepared ahead of time.
Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Cheese Mousse
“This steak is cut from the beef tenderloin, part of the short loin primal. It is greatly desired for being the most tender cut of beef. Several steaks are actually cut from this region, including the Filet Mignon, Chateaubriand, and Tournedos. Ask your butcher to trim the excess fat and cut your pieces 8-10 Oz.” — Executive Chef Juan Carlos Mendoza
Note: The mousse can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before using.
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 pound soft Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place nuts on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let nuts cool completely before chopping.
- Finely chop the nuts in the work bowl of a small food processor. Crumble the cheese into the bowl and add the cream and salt and pepper to taste, then process until completely smooth, scraping sides when necessary.
- Place into a piping bag to hold for plating. (Also, if you don’t have a piping bag, a Ziploc bag with the tip of one corner sliced off can do the trick.) Make sure to serve at room temperature.
Oven-Baked Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoes
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the potatoes into a large pot and fill pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by at least an inch.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
In a separate pot, bring to boil the heavy cream, then reduce the heat until you maintain a simmer on medium-low heat.
- Drain water from potatoes, pat dry with paper or kitchen towels, then peel. (Note: You can also peel the potatoes before cooking, but for a richer flavor I prefer to cook them with the skin on.)
- Break up butter over potatoes in a large bowl. Smash the butter into the potatoes with a potato masher or by pressing potatoes against side of bowl with a large spoon. Add heavy cream, horseradish, salt and pepper, and continue to mash until the potatoes have the desired consistency. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
- At this time, your potatoes can be held in a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap firmly covering the entire surface until you are almost done with your steaks.
- While your steaks are resting (as seen in the next part of the recipe), spread butter on a baking sheet and divide mashed potato into four equal parts, building towers, and bake it for around 4-5 minutes until it gets a nice golden brown color.
4 pieces beef tenderloin 8-10 Oz. (approximately 3 in. thick) 2 tablespoons of olive oil Salt and fresh grounded black pepper
- Preheat oven at 425°
- Preheat a large skillet over high heat. You want to make sure the pan is large enough to have all of the steaks in it without them touching each other.
- Season fillets by liberally rubbing with salt and pepper into the top and bottom of each steak. Once your skillet is hot, add olive oil and the steaks in the pan, upside-down, and allow some space in between each steak; sear on high for 1 1/2 minutes on each side then place in oven for 5 minutes for medium-rare to medium once it reaches the temperature of your choice.
- Once your steaks come out of the oven, return the pan to the stove over medium heat, and add in 2-3 tablespoons of cold butter, along with the sprigs of rosemary.
- Using a spoon, you are going to baste the steaks with the hot butter that is now infusing with the rosemary for about 1 minute.
- Remove your steaks from the heat and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Porcini mushrooms sauce.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup minced shallots
2 chopped cloves garlic
¼ tsp. chopped fresh or dried thyme
1 pound sliced Cremini mushrooms
¼ tsp. salt
4 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 Port wine
Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Shallots and sauté 1 minute, until they begin to soften.
- Add garlic and thyme, and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms and salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have cooked down and are browned.
- Add the Port wine and 3 cups beef stock, and bring to a simmer.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the corn starch and 1 cup of beef stock. Gently pour this mixture into your sauce and whisk to incorporate. You want to make sure your sauce reaches boiling, otherwise your sauce will not thicken properly.
- You will know you have reached the right consistency when it can coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, whisk in parsley. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
1 bag pre-washed spinach
2 tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
- In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil and garlic over low-medium heat. Add spinach and lightly salt. Cook until wilted. (Note: Strain the juice of the spinach, otherwise your plate is going to get a little bit messy.)
- Bring the baked mashed potato on middle of the plate.
- Next to it using a mold ring, pour the spinach into the ring, and gently press down.
- Add the beef tenderloin on top of the spinach.
- On the side, pour the mushroom sauce, plus more sauce around the plate.
- With a piping bag, pipe a small rosette of mousse on top of the tenderloin.
- Garnish with fresh minced chives or another herb of your choice.
Recipe by: Executive Chef Juan Carlos Mendoza
As for the pairings, this is a perfect example of why the classics are the classics. There’s a good reason why the menus at steak houses are full of Cabernet-based wines. The fact is that the rich, intense dark fruit and grippy tannin of Cabernet marries perfectly with the textures and fatty nature of steak. However, what we didn’t see coming was the second pairing from our Somm Christian Fentress. Read on to find out how these two pairings worked.
Why it works: The Dominus 2013 is a powerful yet elegant Napa Cabernet that’s an excellent match for this dish. The earthy tones as well as the tender char on the tenderloin act as a great backdrop to the expansive fruit profile of Dominus, especially in this vintage. Apart from the expected broad dark ripe cherry and mushroom tones, there seems to be more undertones of plums, blood orange and violets that play so well with various components of the dish, especially the horseradish potatoes which adds a little bit of kick to each bite.
My Thoughts: Anna-Christina’s classic pairing was executed perfectly. It also helped that the winemaking style of Dominus is more Eurocentric than your average Napa Cabernet. Here, I found a gorgeous contrast of textures and cut from the youthful tannin in the ‘13 Dominus. And the mushrooms in sauce–this was a match made in heaven.
Why it works: Macari’s 2010 ‘Dos Aguas’ is definitely a classic pairing. What makes this pairing really fun is the quality of the wine. We routinely taste this wine blind and are constantly surprised (and sometimes fooled), thinking that this wine is Left Bank Bordeaux. What you really get is the best of the Old and New worlds, with a great fruit character complementing the mushroom jus, and the power and structure to hold up to the wonderful roasted tenderloin. The spice of the potatoes is also a lot of fun, highlighting the little bit of spice that comes through from the Cabernet Franc that is part of this blend. It’s a pairing to be enjoyed!
My Thoughts: I wasn’t prepared for how good this pairing would turn out. Firstly, you must consider the origins and the price point of the Dos Aguas. Here we witnessed a Merlot blend from the North Fork that retails for around $28, standing toe-to-toe with one of Napa Valley’s best producers. Granted, we weren’t comparing the wines–just the pairings, which the Macari excelled at. The spicy and floral quality of the Dos Aguas added dimensions to the tenderloin that were unexpected, while a core of brisk acidity enlivened the experience more and more with each sip.
To Sum It All Up
As you can imagine, we have to work ahead to prepare these features, and in this case the filming and tasting for this feature was done over three months ago. I wanted to share that because of all of the recipes and pairings that we have covered on these pages, this is the one that I’ve been looking forward to the most. Frankly, this tenderloin recipe that Chef Juan Carlos has created is to die for, and the pairings are so memorable that I can’t wait to visit again.
What did we learn? We learned that the classics exist for a very good reason–tried and true. But what we also learned is to never stop experimenting or to judge a book by its cover. While the Dominus wowed me and left my mouth watering, the Macari stretched my imagination, as well as pleased my palate.
Until next month, keep cooking and tasting!