Steak. Potatoes. Cauliflower. Three basic ingredients – but tonight’s purchases are superlative ingredients: super fresh, totally unmitigated by pesticides or hormones, and completely locally sourced. Melt-in-your-mouth fresh filet mignons, simply spiced and pan-seared, over silky truffled potato puree with buttery Veronica mornay, snappy greens two ways, and a rich demi-glace. Simply delectable.
After we finished at the farm stand, Clayton and I headed northwest, driving about 20 miles to the very wealthy country town of West Groton, where the provocatively named Blood Farm has been doing business for over 100 years. One wonders which came first: the family name, or the family business: butchery.
They have several freezers laden with their wares, but if you don’t want frozen you can get anything cut fresh that you want. Anything. The place is kind of a disorganized mess, with very little logical business flow. The white-coated lady in front of my smiling husband is weighing that dude’s meat cuts – stuff he’d pulled out of the freezer. She writes the weights on a slip of paper, then walks around to a tiny office, pushing through the people fishing through the freezers, where there is a calculator, and she adds up the total. No register. No counter. The place looks more like a storeroom where regular folks really don’t belong than a storefront – but man o’ man are the prices amazing. More on that later — let’s get to the recipe.
Tenderloin Steaks over Truffled Potato Puree with Veronica Romanesque Alfredo and Greens
2 8oz tenderloin steaks (filet mignon cut)
2 russet potatoes
2 small veronica romanesco heads of cauliflower (these are about 6oz each)
2 large shitake mushrooms
1 bunch watercress several leaves of kale
black truffle oil
1 stick butter
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
sea salt, black pepper
1/2 cup concentrated beef stock
1/2 tsp flour
I met a young mathematician the other day; I’d love to serve her these. We don’t see naturally occurring fractals often — unless we look at frost formations regularly — but these members of the Brassica oleracea species give us the opportunity to EAT MATH. I mean, look at them! Technically, all broccolis and cauliflowers are fractals, but these are so regularly shaped in such reducing dimensions…
… see what I mean? This little nub is about 1/20th the size of the head, but it is truly an exact replica of the whole, as is each of its nipples, and its nipples nipples. Fascinating. I trim the outer leaves away from the base, and cut as much of the stem off as I can so that each head will sit upright, but flat.
Then, since I’m steaming these, I cut a cylindrical core out of each head, too — thinking that might help the steam permeate the whole thing more evenly. I dunno — maybe it was unnecessary, but it did ultimately steam perfectly. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.
These steaks are easily an inch thick, and together they weigh in at a little more than a pound. At an amazing $16.09/lb, and freshly cut from the beast just hours earlier, this may be the best steak I’ve ever purchased.
But the proof will be in the final product, and I don’t want to adulterate my meat with anything too strong, so I very simply salt and pepper the steaks before putting them on my hot non-stick skillet to sear.
For pan-seared steaks, I prefer the flip-once-a-minute technique – as those of you who read my blog know from previous posts (like this and this and this). For steaks this thick, I lower the heat to medium high, so that they’ll cook more slowly, but still thoroughly, holding in the juices as they redistribute each time I flip the meat.
I watch the progress of the heat by keeping an eye on the cut edge; the redness through the middle thins towards the center as the cooking cooks closer to well. But we like it medium rare – so I flip these babies about 10 times total (that’s about 5 minutes on each side), until they’ve surrendered the upper and lower outer thirds of their pink.
I neglected to take pictures of me peeling, chopping, boiling in salted water, draining and mashing my potatoes, or mixing that mash with black truffle oil for savor. I also neglected to take pictures of me roasting off a few kale chips, and adding some concentrated beef stock and some softened butter mashed with flour to the steak pan to make a rich beef sauce. Oh, and I neglected to take pictures of adding some more softened butter mashed with flour to my small skillet, adding half and half, and simmering with parmesan cheese to make a mornay sauce for the cauliflower. Sorry. I was hungry.
What I didn’t neglect, dear reader, was to dive into this amazing platter of New England’s best farm fresh beef and produce with gusto and abandon. Using our daintiest knives, we easily shave tender slivers of steak off our loins, sandwiching them between bi-layers of umame flavor – the shitake from above, and the truffled mash below. Each wee cone of cauliflower bursts with nutty vegetal flavor, and the blanket of salty creamed cheese sauce is the perfect compliment. A rich, glassy puddle of savory silken beef gravy, some snappy fresh cress and crispy roasted kale add the finishing touches. The steak is so juicy, so meaty, so fresh and delicious – I’m convinced. It IS the best steak I’ve ever purchased, and the best steak I’ve ever eaten. Blood Farm – you’ve made a believer out of me. See you soon!