I hope you’ve all had a better Christmas than I’ve had, since instead of preparing and eating a five-course dinner, I was in bed with a nasty stomach flu I had to reschedule Christmas dinner with my parents to today. Yesterday I wasn’t fully recovered, but feeling well enough to cook this Tournedos Rossini. I could only eat half of it, but Kees didn’t mind at all eating my other half. I also only had a few sips of the nice 2003 Barolo from Schiavenza that we had with it. Tournedos Rossini has become somewhat of a tradition for “2nd Christmas day” (as we call it in the Netherlands, known as Boxing Day in the UK, Santo Stefano in Italy or simply December 26 in many other places) since it is certainly decadent enough for the holidays, while it is very easy and not a lot of work to prepare. After all the work I usually put in on Christmas day, it’s nice to relax and hardly cook at all.
Tournedos Rossini is a steak of beef tenderloin (also known as filet mignon) with foie gras and a madeira demi-glace sauce. It is even better with some freshly shaved truffle on top. In the traditional recipe it is served on a crouton, but I always leave that out. It is one of my favorite dishes and I still remember tasting it for the first time on June 17, 2003 at Auberge du Falkenstein in Philippsbourg (north-east of France). We didn’t have very high hopes of the restaurant because they had two rooms: one where they served pizza and one with a “gastronomique” menu. The menu of the gastronomique looked so good that we we tried it anyway — it wasn’t like there was a lot of choice of ‘gastronomique’ restaurants in the area and we still had to make up for the terrible dinner two days before in Mulhouse on our 1st wedding anniversary. Since the 15th was on a Sunday, all the ‘gastronomique’ restaurants were closed and we ended up eating sauerkraut in a place with plastic tablecloths. Anyway, we had never heard of Tournedos Rossini, but it sounded interesting and so we gave it a try. It was good there were hardly any other guests around, because the noises I was making while eating this might have caused other people to think we were doing something else rather than eating. It was THAT good. And then to think that the version at Falkenstein did not even have truffle.
If you’re OK with eating foie gras and you’ve never had this, please give it a try. Also a great way to impress your guests! You just have to pan-fry the tournedos and finish it in the oven, deglaze the pan with madeira, simmer down beef stock until it’s really thick (this is called demi-glace), assemble the dish, heat up the goose liver a bit with a blow torch, and shave a bit of truffle on top. Here’s how to do it step by step.
If you have sous-vide equipment, instead of finishing the tournedos in the oven you could also vacuum seal it, cook it sous-vide for 2 hours at 55C/131F, and then pan-sear it afterwards as described below.
2 tournedos (filet mignon, beef tenderloin)
2 slices of fresh foie gras (of about 1 cm or 1/3 inch thick)
2 Tbsp clarified butter (or use 1 Tbsp regular butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil)
250 ml (1 cup) unsalted concentrated beef stock (if using regular beef stock, take 500 ml (2 cups) and simmer it down to 250 ml (1 cup))
80 ml (1/3 cup) madeira
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 100C/225F.
Insert the probe of an instant-read thermometer into the center of one of the tournedos. Put them in the oven at 100C/225F until the core temperature has reached 55C/131F for medium-rare. (For rare, 50C/122F, for medium, which would be wasting good beef, 60C/140F. Let’s not even talk about well-done.)
Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the sauce has a nice thick consistency. You will only have about 4 Tbsp left. This is called a demi-glace. Taste and season the demi-glace with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste now that it has reached the desired thickness. (If you had started with seasoned beef stock, it would have ended up way too salty.)
This complex rich dish goes with a rich complex red. I love this with a good Barolo, but it has to be a very good silky full-bodied one. Modern-style barolos made with oak are more likely to fit this profile.