This particular Sunday lunch was the most ambitious one I had cooked up to that point.
For some reason I have always been intimidated by the idea of cooking a fillet of beef but I was inspired to take on the challenge when I came across Ina Garten’s slow roasted beef recipe and found a beautiful Chateaubriand tenderloin at Fairway that begged to be given some love and attention. I had invited my friends Josh, Caroline, Tom, Greg for lunch whom – besides being a very fun bunch of people – I knew were all meat lovers and therefore the perfect candidates for my experiment. Even Josh, who a few months ago ended his 20 years commitment to being a vegetarian by eating foie gras on a restaurant tasting menu and he hasn’t looked back since – a man after my own heart!
The idea is that the beef is roasted at a much lower temperature than normal so it slowly cooks and remains moist. The loin is seasoned generously, then rubbed with olive oil and covered with fresh tarragon sprigs before tying it with string. The result was divine: while I served the beef rare, it was warm all the way through and had the texture of butter. The tarragon imparted a lovely and subtle anis flavor to the meat and the basil parmesan mayonnaise was the perfect super savory counterpoint. I made simple roasted asparagus to go with it as well as hasselback potatoes because I think they are as pretty as they are tasty – the trick I find is to baste them every fifteen minutes of so in their own juices while they are cooking to keep them moist (I add water to the baking tray if/when the juices run low).
As I was feeling particularly confident, I also made a couple of appetizers to start the meal off. I’m obsessed with raw fish and ceviche of any kinds and made a very simple tuna tartare with toasted fennel seeds that I served on chinese spoons.
And I also made a savory gruyère and chives panna cotta with bacon jam. It was an impressive looking appetizer although I personally found it to be a little on the rich side – my guests seemed to love it but I would recommend serving these as part of a lighter meal. The bacon jam was very easy to make in advance and added the umami touch that the luscious cheese and cream mixture needed.
Since I didn’t adapt the individual recipes, here are links below where you can find them: