Last week’s post was a minimalist, economical, extremely simple soup recipe. This week is the exact opposite: maximalist, decadent, and technical cooking. Last weekend was the first Sunday in over a month where we weren’t sick or traveling so Cheryl challenged me to whip up something extra special for Sunday dinner. Since I was on a bit of a French cuisine run I turned to Julia Child and found this recipe for Filet de Boeuf Braise Prince Albert. Beef, foie gras, truffles, and a delicious sauce. How much more decadent can it get? I’m not sure who this particular Prince Albert was but he was a very lucky guy if he was able to have this whenever he wanted.
As with all of the dishes in Julia Child’s cookbook the recipes are broken down into steps where she gives you the ingredients required for each part but only for that part, not the entire recipe. This can be very confusing if you’re not paying attention. Luckily you have me. I find it’s best to do a very serious prep for her recipes by reading the entire recipe and ingredients then lay out everything you need in the order you cook them; like I did below (although I didn’t give you grand totals). Julia’s recipe are definitely ones which teach you all about mise en place!
While this braised beef has some intricacy to it, it really is a pretty easy dish to cook. I had a lot of fun cooking this Sunday dinner and I think it is because I never had too many things going on at once. For example I prepared the vegetables for the braise, stuffing for the beef, and stuffed the beef ahead of time. When it came time to start dinner all I had to do was brown and braise. The kitchen was a lot less messy too.
If you read last week’s post you may recall I was going on about how I now like to use plain water instead of stock when making soups. Well this week I’m going to tell you to ignore that pearl of kitchen wisdom and most definitely use stocks when making sauces. Especially a French sauce. It’s my opinion French cuisine is all about the sauce. You can have the same protein but five different sauce to go with it. And if you don’t believe me just thumb through Mastering the Art of French cooking! Anyway, the sauce for this braised beef is pretty tasty. You will seriously impress people with this. Just really good vegetable and beef flavors, velvety and luscious.
Some notes on the recipe. As usual I substituted a couple of ingredients because of what I had in the pantry. Marsala for Madeira, guanciale for ham, and some brandy for cognac. Minor adjustments which worked fine. In the future I think I’d leave out the canned truffles. The ones you find in the store are usually flat in flavor and don’t add much except cost. Also I would chill the foie gras mousse stuffing in order to firm it up prior to stuffing the tenderloin. Too soft and it squeezes out the top when you tie it up. I will say this sauce would be great with any beef dish, in fact you can leave out the stuffing and just braise the tenderloin alone. Of course, you realize that would change the name of the dish.
Filet de Boeuf Braise Prince Albert (adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
For marinating canned truffles
- 4-6 canned truffles
- 3 Tbs Marsala (orig calls for Madeira but I had none)
For the vegetables
- ¾ C carrots, small dice
- ¾ C onion, small dice
- ½ C celery, small dice
- 3 Tbs gunaciale, small dice
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pinch of pepper
- 2 parsley sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thyme sprig
- 3 Tbs butter
- 1/3 C Marsala
- 2 Tbs shallots, minced
- 1 Tbs butter
- 4 oz foie gras mousse
- 1 Tbs Marsala
- 1 Tbs brandy
- Pinch of Allspice, thyme, pepper
- 2-3 lb beef tenderloin
- 1-2 strips of bacon or pork fat
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 C beef stock
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 2 Tbs Marsala
If using preserved truffles, quarter the truffles, pour liquid of can/jar into a bowl and mix with 3 Tbs of Marsala. Add truffles and allow to marinate. (doesn’t tell you how long)
Melt butter in a pan over medium heat, add the carrots, onions, celery, guanciale, salt, pepper, bouquet garni, cover and cook until vegetables are soft but not browned, 7-10 minutes. Stir in the 1/3 C of wine and continue to cook until the wine has nearly cooked off. Remove from stove and set aside.
Next, prepare the foie gras stuffing. In a small pan over medium heat cook the shallots in 2 Tbs of butter for 3 minutes taking care not to let them brown. Mix the shallots with the mousse, 1 Tbs Marsala, 1 Tbs brandy, and pinches of allspice, thyme and pepper. Set in refrigerator to chill.
Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
Cut a deep slit lengthwise in the tenderloin, leaving approximately ¼ inch of meat at the ends and along the opposite side, basically forming a large pocket.
Season beef inside and out with salt. Spoon the foie gras stuffing into the slit making sure not to overstuff it so you can close it up. Remove marinating truffle quarters from marinade and insert into the mousse in a line the length of the tenderloin. Hold onto the marinade. Squeeze the tenderloin shut, place the bacon strip of pork fat on top of the seam. Tie the tenderloin like a roast.
Add 2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs oil, pinch of salt and pepper to a large casserole or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat on the stove and melt the butter. Brown the beef on all sides, remove from pan and drain off fat. Insert digital meat thermometer probe if you have one.
Place beef back in the pan and surround with the cooked vegetables.
Pour the 3 C beef stock into the pan making sure it is at least halfway up the side of the tenderloin.
Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place in pre-heated oven.
Braise until meat reaches 130°F for medium rare, about 45 minutes, basting beef occasionally.
When cooked to correct temperature remove pan from oven and remove beef from pan. Set aside on a plate and cover with aluminum foil tent to rest.
Skim fat off the braising liquid and pour in the reserved truffle marinade. Keep the vegetables in the liquid.
Place pan on stove top over medium high heat and reduce braising liquid to 2 C.
Make a cornstarch slurry with 1 Tbs cornstarch and 2 Tbs Marsala. Whisk into the reduced braising liquid and heat until thickened.
Slice the rested beef and spoon the sauce on.