I mentioned in the most recent CSA week-opening post that I had rich and classy beef dish planned to be accompanied by a parsley salad. This is that. I've been accumulating small amounts of high-tone ingredients that I've bought on impulse and this is a good chance to put them all together to strut their stuff. I've got here a six ounce filet mignon (cut from the three pound piece of grass-fed tenderloin I got a good deal on last month), a summer black truffle (second best to winter black truffle but only half the cost at around $12 per truffle), a small bottle of foie gras (mushy from the preservation, but the flavor is comparable to fresh. And at $13 for 1.7 ounces rather more affordable.), and some condensed veal demi-glace (only five bucks and enough for several recipes).
I'm using a recipe from the Gilded Fork at Culinary Media Network. I've poked around a bit on their website and I'm still not clear just who these people are or what their deal is. Kind of a web-only alternative to Gourmet magazine I think.
Anyway, the recipe isn't too complicated. I seasoned the filet with just salt and pepper and sautéed it in olive oil and butter in a small cast iron pan for four minutes on one side and three on the other. (The recipe says: "Cooking time will depend on how well-done you desire the steaks." Great guidance there. Thanks a lot.) My cooking time was a pure guess but by chance, I managed to get the filet done to just about medium; a little further along than I generally prefer but quite palatable.
In another pan I sweated the truffle, shaved thin, in butter. (The recipe actually calls for a full ounce of truffle for each steak. That's eight whole average truffles and assuming they're calling for black winter truffle, about $100 worth. There's certainly not that much piled up in the picture with the recipe so I'm going to assume some screw up here and that using just one truffle is sufficient. After a few minutes I added a good splash of red wine (They call for Madiera but Fresh Market didn't have any so I just used a Cab that goes well with red meat. Probably nothing like what was intended, but I like how it turned out.) and the reconstituted demi-glace and turned down the heat to just keep it warm.
When the steak was done I removed it to a warm oven and added slices of foie gras, seasoned and floured, to the pan and turned up the heat to quickly brown it on both sides.
And that's it. The steak gets topped by the foie gras and the sauce (mounted with a pat of cold butter) is poured on top. Easy-peasy.
The salad is just as easy. A big handful of parsley leaves (stems kept for making soup) roughly chopped, tossed with a sliced shallot and maybe a half Tablespoon of capers. Seasoned with salt and pepper and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
I shouldn't have used the black plate; I don't think you can get a really good look at the assembled dish. Sorry.
So is it everything it's cracked up to be? Could anything possibly be? It's certainly got Arby's roast beef sandwich beat; I'll give it that much. I want to say it's one-note, but that's not quite right. Each component is evident and compliments the others with its own individual take on that note: buttery, earthy, fatty, meaty, rich (with some tanginess from the wine). It's a chorus, but monotonic; like Gregorian plainchant. OK, I just had a bit with the right amounts of everything at the right temperature and the layers of flavors and textures really are very good indeed. I'm now I'm willing to put it on par with a well-made cheesesteak. I don't know if I made the sauce quite properly and I certainly didn't use the heap of truffles the recipe calls for so it wouldn't be fair for me to write it off on the basis of my own efforts. And maybe it's unfair to expect it to be transcendent just because of its pricey ingredients. If I see it on a menu and I've got the cash to burn I'll consider it, but I'll probably order the lobster.
The parsley salad is the steak's diametric opposite: light, crisp and tart. A lovely accompaniment. Going back and forth between the two is a bit much, but the bread acts as a mediator as it did with the marrow bones the salad was invented to accompany. I think it would go nicely with carpaccio or as a garnish to a bowl of beef bourguignon.
I've still got lots of parsley left; I'll have to look into other parsley salads as I don't think I'll be eating any more beef for a little while now.