Clayton swung by Wilson Farm on his way home from Concord today, so he brought home everything we needed for dinner. After much consultation on the phone. Like three phone calls. Yet, eventually that was all he needed to gather together just the right stuff. A couple of perfect little tenderloins, some lovely green beans for us to vivisect on our french bean slicer, and a bag of dear wee white potatoes for me to boil to firm bursting softness. I did a mushroom sauce just the other day, and I wanted something a little more elegant, so I also had him buy some eggs, shallots, and tarragon so I could (hopefully successfully) whip up a simple classic Sauce béarnaise. A rich, buttery (but not as buttery as one would think!), indulgent dinner of tender peppered steaks, fresh green, salty spud, and savory herb sauce.
Ahh. Deliciousness, all in a line.
Let’s start with the spuds.
Pick out as many as you need — I grab 5 ping pong ball sized for each of us — and toss into some deep salted boiling water.
Then let’s move to our beans, which we’ve run through our french slicer, and are ready to blanch.
Drop your sliced and skinned beans into a deep well of rapidly boiling water, and cook for 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly, rinse in cold water, drain again, and set aside.
Meanwhile, mince one large shallot and several stems worth of leaves of tarragon. You’ll use these two sweetly pungent complex flavors as the golden thread which will bind the three courses on your plate together. It will savor your sauce, spice your spuds, and slather through your sliced green beans, with hints of lemon and butter to boot.
Using the flip once a minute technique, I bring my sweet little cast iron pan to smoking point, then slap my lightly black-truffle oil basted and cracked black pepper covered filet mignons onto their hot surfaces. I sear for one minute…
… then flip. Then sear for one minute… then flip. These steaks are about 1″ thick, so I want to cook them for about 4 minutes each side, so — taking into account the slight cooling each side will endure once it’s removed from the heat — I turn my steaks 10 times total. This traps in all the juices, and sears each side perfectly brown and crisp on the edges, medium rare in the centers. For more well done, flip a few more times for a few more moments, depending upon your preference. (Please don’t prefer well done with good meat. It’s such a waste of flavor! Love, the cook.)
For your béarnaise, you must use fresh cold large eggs. Crack ‘em, separate ‘em with love and fingers and feeling and soul, and reserve your yolks. I actually only ended up using two yolks — not four.
Set up a double boiler (I use two of my metal bowls from a cheap-ass Christmas Tree Shops $14.99 boxed set and my large saucepan filled with water), and first melt 1/2 a stick of butter. Remove from the heat, lower the boil to a simmer, and place your well whipped bowl of egg yolks over the water. Whisk very very very well and constantly, add the juice of one lemon, whisk very very very well and constantly, then add several tablespoons of the hot water (just scoop it from underneath) whisking very very very well, until you reach the right consistency — which is smooth and slightly frothy.
Slowly slowly slowly steadily steadily steadily add a thin thin thin stream of your melted butter, whisking thoroughly and completely and constantly. You can’t walk away from a hollandaise (or béarnaise) sauce; it requires L.O.V.E. When it’s reached a thick, aerated sauce, add 1/3 of your chopped shallots and tarragon leaves. Whisk well, remove from the heat, and set your bowl over a larger bowl of cold water to hold up to 10 minutes. Run a whisk through it from time to time to keep it from breaking; it will thicken upon standing.
Melt the remaining 1/2 stick of your butter, and toss your now cooked and easily-pierced-with-a-fork potatoes with another 1/3 of your shallots and tarragon and 2tbs of that butter, and toss your green beans back into the wok with the other 2tbs of that butter, the last 1/3 of your shallots and tarragon, and the zest of one lemon over medium heat. Toss each veg well with each set of flavors, until heated through, and then plate.
Richly peppered tenderloins coated in herbacilious tarragon béarnaise, alongside tenderific lemon tarragon haricot vert and splendexcellent shallot tarragon spuds. A decadent dinner… a deservéd delight… during a daunting week.