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The Silence of the Hams...

Also - Mooo-ve over Turkey, you had your turn.  It's December now - which means sandwich leftover season is OVER!  I'm not saying I don't love a good open-faced turkey or ham and relish sandwich, I do - but one can only have so many.  It's time for the greedy strategists in the marketing department at Turkey central to stop working overtime and take a breather (Believe it or not, Turkey is also the preferred centerpiece of Christmas dinner in America) ... Christmas is for Cows.  They both start with "C". Coincidence? I think not.


Now, if my last few experiences at the grocery store are any indication, the hustle and bustle of the holidays are in full swing - which means your time is precious, and limited.  That being said, I'm not going to dribble on with extra lengthy posts this month - I will keep them concise adjacent.  I am however going to post a lot of recipes this month - they will not all be in emails so you will have to check back often.  Also, I am going to do my own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, Dave's Baker's Dozen Days of Christmas -  with a different recipe a day that will be geared towards light hors d'oeuvres and canapes that you can easily and quickly make to pair with your favorite libations on Christmas Eve (Look for these December 10-22.) 


Ok... On with it.  Have you ever "herd" of Chateaubriand?  If not, let me just tell you, it is the quintessential holiday cut of beef - the center cut of the tenderloin. The creme de la creme of the cow!  Let's take a closer look at this muscle really quick so you can better understand its greatness.

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"Chateaubriands are obtained from the center of the trimmed fillet of beef, cut two or three times the thickness of an ordinary fillet steak. However, when it is to be cooked by grilling the Chateaubriand should not be more than 500g (1lb 2oz) in weight as, if larger than this, the outside tends to become too dry and hard before the inside is properly cooked. Many strange ideas have been put forward concerning the proper accompaniment for Chateaubriand, correctly speaking it should be Sauce Colbert or similar sauce and small potatoes cooked in butter. In modern practice though, Chateaubriands are served with any of the sauces and garnishes suitable for Tounedos and fillet steaks." - Auguste Escoffier


Now that you know what it is, lets talk about cooking it.  First things first, you are going to want to truss it - this is going to ensure even cooking.  Then you are going to get aggressive with the seasoning - every great sear begins with a great lacquering of salt and pepper. Cast iron is going to be your best friend when developing the crust - don't be afraid to blast the heat to the pan!  After it is cooked (to Rare -110-115 degrees, I hope) IT NEEDS TO REST!  10-15 minutes, under a tented piece of aluminum foil is best.  Drooling Yet???  Well, you've done all the steps, now what?  You put that beautiful piece of roasted tenderloin on a cutting board, walk it into the dining room, and thinly slice it table-side to your loved one and favorite guests.  Serve it up with some brown butter roasted white asparagus and your favorite potatoes.  I love serving this with potatoes al forno (click here for the recipe). And don't forget to get saucy! Make two or three...  Let people be choosy, it's Christmas!!! 


What a way to kick off the Christmas season!  I hope you will enjoy this delectable feast for your Christmas dinner!  I know I will.  ( Ok - that's a lie.  Anyone that knows me knows my Christmas dinner of choice is a little more, um... plebeian - But we're not going to talk about that.)  Along with this delicious Chateaubriand, I am going to throw in some sauces that I would serve with it - perfect for bringing your family home for the Hollandaise!  <--- C'mon, you had to see that one coming from a mile a whey.  The traditional 1822 recipe for Chateaubriand actually called for lesser quality cuts of beef to be trussed around the center cut piece of the tenderloin, and grilled - making it the original Turduken version of Franken-beouf!

Chateaubriand

1 x 1#+ center cut piece of tenderloin

Salt and Pepper, generously

2-3 T. oil

***

- 0ptional pan sauce-

1 shallot, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 C. red wine

2 T. butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.


In a large cast iron pan, heat the oil smoking.  While the oil is heating, season the tenderloin well with salt and pepper.  Sear the tenderloin on all sides to form a very hard crust.  When all sides are seared, transfer the pan to the oven and roast until cooked to your doneness of preference.  About 10 minutes for rare, 20 minutes for medium well.  Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chateaubriand to a resting rack and tent with aluminuim foil for 10 minutes.  If making a quick pan sauce, return the cast iron pan back to the stove and add the shallot and garlic.  Cook until the aromatics are fragrant, deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce by 2/3rd's.  Remove the pan from the heat, let cool slightly and then add the butter to emulsify.  Season with salt and pepper.

After the tenderloin has had time to rest, transfer it to a nice cutting board to present it, and carve it table-side in front of your guests.  Drizzle with the pan sauce or any other sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce - Bearnaise Variation

• 2 egg yolks

• 2 T. white wine

• 12 oz butter, melted and clarified

• Salt, Pepper

• Dash of Cayenne

• Dash of lemon juice

--

1/4 C. champagne vinegar

1 T. tarragon, chopped, or chervil

salt and pepper


1. Over a double boiler, add the egg yolks and the white wine and whisk vigorously & continuously until the egg yolks have reached a double standing figure 8 stage.

2. At this point, remove the egg yolks from the double boiler, and place in a wet towel ring. Very, very, extremely slowly drizzle the clarified butter into the egg yolks while whisking constantly until every last drop of butter has been incorporated and has made an emulsion into the egg yolks.

3. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon juice and serve immediately.

4. For Bearnaise - in a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, tarragon and salt and pepper.  Gently reduce to 1 Tablespoon. Let cool and fold into made Hollandaise.

Chasseur Sauce

• 2 T. butter

• 8 oz. nameko mushrooms – or any mushroom of choice

• 1 T. butter

• 1 shallot, sliced

• 4 garlic cloves, smashed

• 2 T. brandy

• ½ C. tomato puree

• ¾ C. white wine

• 1 C. veal demi glace

• 1.5 T. tarragon, chopped

• 1 T. butter

1. In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the butter, and when melted, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute until the mushroom begin to turn color. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

2. Add the 1 T. butter to the pan and when melted and hot, add the shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and soft. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and cook out the alcohol. Add the tomato puree and white wine and reduce until most of the liquid is gone. Next add the demi glace and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon (nape). Remove the pan from the heat and add the cooked mushrooms, tarragon and butter, and stir in the butter until melted, season with salt and pepper.

Morel Bordelaise

• ½ oz. dried morels

• Hot water, as needed

• 1 T. butter

• 2 T. veal demi glace

• 1 C. red wine

• 1 large shallot, sliced

• 3 cloves garlic, smashed

• 3 sprigs thyme

• 1 T. peppercorns

• 4 sprigs parsley

• 2 T. butter

Place the dried morels in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 15-20 minutes.

2. In a saute pan, heat the 1 T. butter. Add the rehydrated morels, season with salt and pepper, and saute briefly. Add the demi glace and heat briefly. Set aside.

3. In a saucepan, combine the wine, shallot, garlic, thyme, peppercorns and parsley. Reduce the mixture over medium heat until the liquid has almost evaporated. Remove from heat and strain.

4. Return the saute pan to the heat and add the strained mixture to the mushrooms. When hot, remove from the heat and swirl in the butter. Season with salt and pepper.