Beef Tenderloin with Lemon-Shallot Aioli Served with Roasted Potatoes
There are few occurrences during life that delight me more than the change of one season to the next. I am quite sure that my hardier readers to the north scoff at this sentiment, taking into rightful consideration that I live in southern California, where the weather never dips too low nor does it rise too high. Still, in a state in which the harbingers of Spring are perceived more from the changes in the produce aisle at Whole Foods than in actual temperature variation, the advent of spring meats at the butcher counter and fresh green beans amongst the herbs will always send me into a fit of frenzied exuberance.
Now, as I have in past years lived in cooler climates, I will attempt to address a situation in which many of my readers may have found themselves. When there is just enough chill in the air to make one desire a rich, dark red wine, but just enough of Spring peeking in to incite an appetite for brighter, lighter food preparations. How to accommodate this wanderlust? Well, first things first. My glass is empty...
For this first recipe, I have selected the 2002 Essex Napa merlot. It has a great deal of rich ripe dark fruit at the front of the palate to complement the simple ingredients of this dish, but just enough tannin to provide structure enough to pair with beef. In looking for a Spring red wine pairing, just make sure that the wine is medium in body and supple in texture. Save your huge reds for snuggling up next to the fire in January.
A few preliminary steps are required, I made this dish for a dinner party that my husband and I were having on a Saturday evening in late April. The aioli and vinaigrette I made on the Saturday morning while my husband was on the telephone - very quick. (And also a bit of fun I should say as I finished off the last glass of the previous night's bottle as I worked. Oh who cares if it was morning. It was a Saturday wasn't it?)
Make ahead - (anywhere from 1 hr. to 2 days earlier)
3 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
5 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk ingredients together in small bowl, put aside-flavors will intensify as they sit - shake before using (if you want to expand portions - keep vinegar to oil in 3:5 ratio) This is a classic recipe, the same as my father and grandmother used and as versatile as can be. If you want more acid substitute lemon juice for vinegar. French mustard dressing-substitute Maille Dijon for 1/2 the vinegar etc.)
2. Lemon Shallot Aioli:
in the "bowl" of a food processor add:
2 tsp salt
pinch or two cayenne
1-1.5 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped shallot
1 egg (both yolk and white)
Turn processor "on" while 1 Cup of vegetable oil is poured into the "drizzle" attachment in the lid of processor - in about 2 minutes, aioli. Let sit at least 30 min. to intensify flavors.
Again - so versatile and I tell you, if you have any beef left the next day slice it thinly and place between two slices of pumpernickel with arugula tomato and the aioli - pop open a bottle of champagne and Sunday becomes a fun day of dressed up sandwiches and debauchery!!!)
- can keep in airtight jar up to 1 week
Now, season Beef (1-1.5 lbs. Beef Tenderloin)
Cut small holes all over beef and insert garlic slivers. Next rub with 1Tbsp. oil , salt and pepper - let sit for about an hour (or more) - not fussy.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit
Pour your first glass of the merlot.
Chat with your guests for a while.
Put on The Who or The Band loudly, or, if you're in a suave mood, Miles Davis. Now nip into the kitchen for about 15-20 minutes while you make sure that someone else (be it a husband, wife, best-friend etc.) cranks up the music, lowers the lights ands keeps the merlot flowing.
While Beef sits, make beans:
fresh green beans (both ends snapped on each bean)
bacon (cooked until crisp, then crumbled)
Cook beans in boiling water until bright green and tender (7-10 min) then drain and plunge into cold water to stop cooking (you don't want overcooked lifeless dull beans). While still slightly warm, sprinkle beans with vinaigrette, bacon pieces, and a tsp or two of the bacon grease and let sit covered until ready to serve.
Now, you need 1 bag of small red potatoes.
Cut each potato in half and arrange cut side down, into (medium/ high heat) sauté pan in which the bacon was cooked (keep 1-2 Tbsp bacon grease in pan or use olive oil)
Take a huge sip - Isn't it yummy - taste a bean - good combo eh? The shallot and bacon intensify the berry flavors in the wine and the green bean stops it from being too rich.
When cut sides of potato pieces look golden and edges crispy, cover, turn heat down to med/low and cook for another 6-9 min. - transfer to baking sheet. Cover with foil and place in oven on low shelf just to keep warm and perhaps to tenderize slightly.
Pop out and say hello to everyone again - everything should be fine in the kitchen.
Sear on all sides in same pan (this will give it a good outer "crust" and improve flavor, then pop it into the oven for 15 min. Turn heat down to 350 and cook for another 25-35 min, testing occasionally for doneness. When you are able to press the meat and it springs back gently it is med/rare.
Pop out again and make sure that people are being herded towards the table. Light candles. Pour lots of new glasses of wine.
Place meat on wooden board and let it REST at least 10 minutes before slicing. Now remove potatoes and toss them (warm) in a Tbsp. or two of the aioli for faint flavoring.
Serve meat sliced thinly on plate. Drizzle with small amount of vinaigrette and top with dollop of lemon shallot aioli. Add beans topped with crumbled bacon and potatoes in aioli.
Have fun! Spring is in the air, and if it wasn't already, romance will I'm sure be in the air too if a clean plate and a frequently filled wine glass are anything to go by...
Recipe created and submitted by Holley Browning.