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something fancy for dinner

July 18, 2009

I live in a great city for meat. Despite that, I’ve never bought meat anywhere but at the local grocery store or Whole Foods. The former has a pretty terrible selection and the quality isn’t terrific; the latter is just too damn expensive for every day. So I finally took the time to figure out where the nearest butcher is and, today, stopped by.

I was, admittedly, nervous. Which is ridiculous—I mean, we’re talking about a butcher shop, right? People have been buying meat from the butcher instead of the supermarket forever. But this butcher shop is in the meatpacking district and is very no frills and I really just had no idea how user-friendly it would be. (I hear stories of one place where you walk into, basically, the meat cooler and have to put on gloves so you can pick out your own meat. Ack!)

My nerves, though, were completely unwarranted. Not only was this shop VERY user-friendly—from the butcher who rummaged in the back for a couple of my special requests to the wholesale dealer who took five minutes to talk to me about the difference between two kinds of Polish sausage—but it was also CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP. Example: I managed to get out of there with 2-1/2 pounds of tenderloin for about $6/lb. (I also got a whole chicken, two beautiful ribeyes, some pork chops, and a pork blade steak for tacos later this week. The blade steak was $2. TWO DOLLARS. And it will feed us for at least one dinner with plenty for leftovers.)

Tonight, I took advantage of the tenderloin and made Beef Wellington for Two. I picked up a Cook’s Illustrated issue full of recipes scaled down for two people a few weeks ago, and the Beef Wellington looked amazing. Instead of wrapping an entire tenderloin in puff pastry, as is traditional for a Beef Wellington, this recipe calls for cooking the two portions individually.

First, I trimmed the tenderloin (it was actually the tenderloin head) and cut it into three pieces. (One piece went into the freezer; I’ll figure out something amazing to do with it later.)

trimmed tenderloin steak

Then I seared the steaks in a small pan on the stovetop.

searing

The steaks went into a 425˚ oven for 15 minutes, along with the puff pastry, each on its own pan. While they cooked, I made the sauce—Madeira, mushrooms, Dijon mustard, and some other stuff.

sauce

Out came the steaks, to be smeared with paté (duck paté made with port wine, which I picked up at the grocery counter of the liquor store). For plating, I rested each steak on the bottom half of piece of puff pastry, topped with the sauce and the other half of the puff pastry. Served with steamed asparagus and a white wine beurre blanc.

plated

The steaks were a touch overcooked—the next time I make this, I’ll shave a few minutes off the oven time as well as from the searing—but still very, very tasty, and the sauce was amazing. I’m calling this one a win.

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