It was finally cold today. Like 20° F. For December in New England, this should be par for the course by now, but we’ve been having an unseasonably warm and dry winter so far. Generally, anything in the double digits this time of year feels relatively balmy, but given the congenial temperatures up to this point, today felt particularly nippy. And what’s to be done about a nippy day? Why, a warm, hearty dinner, of course! After our now-regular bi-monthly trip to Blood Farms, we were laden with protein pabulum just begging to be devoured. I selected a nice, fresh pair of filet mignons, coupled them with an assortment of wild mushrooms, some pan-seared Vidalia onion shoots, and some confetti spuds to make a real nice meat & potatoes meal that warmed us from the insides out.
Tenderloin Steaks with Wild Mushrooms, Seared Vidalia Onions, and Smashed Potato Stacks
2 8oz tenderloin steaks
2-3 fresh sweet onion shoots and stalks (these are Vidalia salad onions)
12-16 small potatoes (I have creamer, red, and potato spuds here)
8oz wild mushrooms (these are chanterelle, shitake, and woodear)
sea salt, black pepper, oregano
shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese
This could very well be called a weeknight wondermeal, since it doesn’t take very long and since it has so few components. But, it made it on the weekend, and I don’t feel like misrepresenting myself to you, dear readers, so it will lack that particular distinction. The longest cooktime is for the potatoes, which have to boil first before I can smash them into submission. I throw them into boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until I can pierce them easily with a fork
Sometimes I beat myself up about the simplicity of my ingredients. I mean really — I have 4 basic items making up today’s meal – how is that masterful? But then I think about how freshly sourced all my food is… how locally grown… organic… natural. And I think about the taste — and just how happy my husband and I are after each and every meal I make. Simple flavors, masterfully combined – that’s my niche. Besides, I know where almost all my vegetables have been grown, and by whom, and how recently picked they are; all the meat I eat is from area abattoirs, and it’s all been butchered within days (if not hours) of when it finally passes my lips; even my diary products are mainly from Massachusetts, with the exception of finer imported items from Italy, Spain, and France. I eat no processed foods, no mass-produced boxed junk, few snacks, and fewer sweets. So even if Lolita is packing a little more chub on her these days, it’s all from food that is good, wholesome, fresh, natural, and healthy. Like these here mushrooms: they are so newly harvested from New England forest floors that they have spring and vigor still coursing through their little fungi bodies. All they’ll need is a quick saute over hot flavor, so I prep them now by washing, drying, and slicing them before I set them aside for later.
Back when Clayton and I still called Georgia home, we lived only a short drive up I75 from Vidalia (pronounced in redneck: vuh-DAY-lee’uh), from whence these beautiful onion shoots hail. Of course, we now live 2000 miles away, so these veggies don’t conform to my locavore habits, however given my past proximity to the sweet onion capital of the world, I can still lay claim to a familiarity with this produce. They were featured at Whole Foods, and they looked so sprightly and snappy that I had to have them. I’ve washed, trimmed, and split them into halves.
I’ve heated my largest skillet to high with a few glugs of EVOO, and I force these shoots as best as I can into the pan. They’re too large, y’see — so I have to wrastle them onto the surface, trying to coat their green shoots with hot oil so they’d wilt, which they did quite nicely. Almost immediately, an aroma of searing sharp charring fills the kitchen, and it is good. These cook for about 10 minutes before I add anything else to the pan.
The potatoes are perfect, so I drain them and spill them out over a couple of EVOO’d baking sheets. Since they will each make a disc about 1 1/2 – 2″ in diameter, they need room to spread out.
See what I mean? Using a fork, and my fingers to keep everything together, I smash each spud into a flat little patty, then douse them again with EVOO, salt, pepper, and oregano. These pans go into a 350° oven to crisp for about 15 minutes.
Just enough time for me to finish my steaks and veggies. I shove all my searing onions to one side of my hot pan, then move that part of the pan sort of off the heat, leaving the electric eye underneath only about 1/2 the pan – where I place my salted and peppered tenderloin steaks. Using the flip once a minute technique, I cook these steaks for about 5 minutes on each side until they are perfectly medium rare.
When the steaks are ready, I plate them on top of my onions on warmed plates and set aside. A few more glugs of EVOO gets added to the pan, and in go the mushrooms, where I saute them over high heat until they are wilted and a little caramelized on their best bits (about 5 minutes).
Meanwhile, my spuds are crispy edged and creamy inn’ed and I remove them, one by one…
…and stack them with shavings of parmigiano reggiano cheese in between each disc. These potato towers get topped with a dollop of sour cream and my minced onion greens.
Juicy, tender, tenderloin steaks with charred onions and seared mushrooms, served with crispy crunchy creamy potatoes. Using pure flavors, simple but sophisticated ingredients, and straightforward cooking techniques, I’ve assembled a supper that would be at home at the finest white-tablecloth bistrots as easily as it would be served off of a rustic hearth in a woodsy cabin during a winter white out. Earth and turf extraordinaire!