Friday, April 13, 2012

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Caramelized Tomato Mushroom Pan Sauce – I’m Glad I Used All Clad

My friends at All Clad recently sent me an invitation to take part in a contest to develop a recipe showing off their 10-inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan. After carefully considering the offer for several seconds, I let them know I’d be thrilled to participate, and even more thrilled to accept their free pan.

After a little brainstorming, I decided seared beef medallions with pan sauce would best highlight the benefits of using this type of pan. Once I decided on a general direction, it was time to pick ingredients. For medallion meat, I chose soft and buttery tenderloin. For the pan sauce, I went with mushrooms and tomato, as I knew they’d allow me to show how spectacular a sauce one can achieve with proper caramelization.

There are two huge advantages to high-quality cookware (three, if you count how cool they look hanging on your pot rack). Because the steel is thicker and denser, the pan not only retains heat much better, but it distributes that heat very evenly. In this recipe, the advantages of both are seen quite clearly.

First of all, we’re able to do a very high-heat sear, with the surface of the medallions getting a beautiful brown crust, while the inside stays nice and rare, thanks to the short cooking time the pan’s heat retention affords.

Secondly, as we’re caramelizing the mushrooms and tomato sauce, you can see the advantages of superior heat distribution. This sauce is very easy, but if you’re using a thin, cheap pan, you’re going to get “hot spots,” which makes browning the sauce base more difficult. Certain areas will scorch and burn quickly, and you don’t get nice even caramelization. Here, you can see that wasn't an issue.

Above and beyond the advantages of the cookware, the recipe tasted amazing. I mean, come on, I can’t give the pan all the credit. It’s one of those dishes that unless someone watched you make it, they’d never believe how fast and simple it is to prepare. By the way, this wonderful sauce would work just as well with pork, veal, or chicken. 

Anyway, thanks to All Clad for the pan and invitation to participate in this contest. I can’t wait to see what other bloggers are participating, and what they’re making. Please stay tuned for more details and results in the near future. In the meantime, I hope you give this great recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

(Since this was for a contest, I was forced to type up the recipe!)

Seared Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Caramelized Tomato & Mushroom Pan Sauce

For 4 servings:

2 lbs beef tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 8 (4-oz) medallions, about 1-inch thick (this will also work with chicken breasts or pork chops)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for searing
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8-10 white button mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 cup marinara sauce (mine had basil and garlic in it, but any prepared tomato sauce will work)
1/3 cup Marsala wine
1 cup veal stock or chicken broth
2 tsp freshly chopped oregano leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes

Season beef medallions generously with salt and pepper to taste. Put vegetable oil in a stainless steel pan, and place over high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, sear the beef for about 2 minutes per side. The meat should get a nice brown crust, but do not cook all the way through, as it will finish cooking in the sauce. Turn off heat, and remove beef to a plate, and reserve until needed.

Add the butter and olive oil to the pan, and place over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook the mushrooms, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until very well browned. Add the tomato sauce, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the tomato sauce thickens and caramelizes on to the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the Marsala wine, and raise heat to high. As the wine comes up to a boil, use a wooden spoon to scrap any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. When almost all the wine has evaporated, add the stock or broth. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by about half.

Reduce the heat to low, and add the beef medallions back in. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, or until the meat is heated through and cooked to your preference. You can add more stock if sauce seems too thick.

Remove the medallions, and divide on four hot plates. Turn the heat off under the sauce, and stir in the oregano and cold butter. Stir constantly until butter has disappeared into the sauce. Taste for seasoning, and adjust if needed. Spoon over meat and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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