During the recent PBS pledge drive, they broke out the hard stuff—Rick Steves’ Christmas in Europe. I watched a charming French family prepare a filet of beef tenderloin wrapped in brioche, and the challenge was ON.
Except I got started late. The brioche required advanced planning and yeast, so I punted with the beef en croûte with coriander-walnut filling from Epicurious.
The coriander-walnut filling smelled so good I almost ate it on its own. I made it so early in the morning on Christmas Eve that I forgot to take pictures. After blanching the greens and whizzing everything together in the Cuisinart, it looked like pesto, and you’ve seen pesto before, right?
The bread dough, too, looked like any pie or tart dough you’ve seen before. Here’s a photo of one of mine if you are really curious.
People weren’t queuing well at the store, and there was not a take-a-number machine. I graciously allowed one person to go in front of me at the butcher before getting Darwinian about it and hollering ME when he asked who was next. Glad I did, because other people were after the beef tenderloin, too. I got two smaller pieces which, added together, equaled 5.5 pounds.
Once it dawned on me just how much meat 5.5 pounds is (not to mention how much it costs-gasp), I called my parents to see if they would eat with us. They’d invited friends for dinner, which worked out even better.
The wrapping of the beef is the part you don’t see every day, so allow me:
Then, the filling, round one:
It was gorgeous, but the NOEL didn’t really show up once it was cooked. Well, OK, it might have, but I forgot to take a photo right away. I was just so thrilled that we’d gotten the perfect medium rare simply by cooking at the recommended temperature for the recommended time.
While I will never again prepare almost 6 pounds of prime beef for 6 people, I would not hesitate to prepare beef in this way again. Very rich, but simple, and it tastes just as good today, cold, as it did last night, right out of the oven.
If I plan ahead, I may even attempt it with a brioche. We shall see.