This winning combination is known in the classic French repertoire as tournedos Rossini. The story is that the composer Rossini, a devoted fan of truffles, asked a chef to prepare this dish. The chef balked, suggesting that it was ill-conceived. The maestro said that if the chef was offended, the maestro himself could prepare the dish quickly while the chef’s back was turned. The word tournedos thus supposedly comes from the French phrase tourner le dos, to turn one’s back. Prepare this when pouring a prodigious red wine, and you surely won’t be vexed.–Katherine Alford
LC Stubborn Is As Stubborn Does Note
We’re rather tickled by this tale of Rossini and his stubbornness. Because as far as we’re concerned, when it comes to knowing good food, stubborn is as stubborn does. And that’s a good thing.
For the sauce
- 2/3 cup Madeira
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 2 cups veal or beef stock
- 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons water (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 to 1 ounce fresh or preserved black winter truffle
For the medallions
- Four 4-ounce filet of beef (tenderloin) medallions about 1 1/2 inches thick, at room temperature
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Four 1-ounce grade-A or -B duck foie gras medallions
Make the sauce
- In a saucepan, bring the Madeira, shallot, thyme, and bay leaf to a gentle simmer and cook until the wine is reduced to a light syrup coating the shallots. The wine may flame briefly but will go out just as quickly.
- Carefully pour the stock into the wine reduction and gently simmer until reduced by half. Skim any impurities that rise to the surface. (If the sauce isn’t thick enough to nap the meat, whisk the arrowroot mixture into the sauce and bring to a full boil to thicken.) Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter. Season with the 3/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and vinegar. Slice the truffle paper-thin with a truffle slicer, mandoline, or very sharp knife and add to the sauce. Set aside and keep warm, preferably in a double boiler over hot water, for up to 1 hour. (You may need to adjust the consistency with a bit of water if the sauce thickens.)
Make the medallions
- Meanwhile, pat the beef medallions dry with paper towels and season one side of the meat with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the oil to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and place the meat, seasoned-side down, in the pan. Sauté until the steaks are a rich, burnished brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Season the remaining side with salt and pepper to taste, turn, reduce the heat slightly, and brown the other side, 3 to 4 minutes. Brown the sides of the medallions by standing them on their sides. Transfer the meat to a plate.
- Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Season the foie gras medallions with salt and pepper to taste. Add the foie gras medallions to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until a deep brown on the bottom. Drain off any excess fat. Turn the foie gras with a metal spatula and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the foie gras softens but still has some resilience. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Assemble the plate
- To serve, remove any strings from the beef medallions. Place the beef on warmed plates or a platter. Top with the foie gras and nap with the sauce, making sure that a couple slices of truffles rest on each serving of foie gras. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This medallions of beef with foie gras and truffles is an exquisite, rich, and decadent dish! The suppleness and flavor of the foie gras is enhanced by the musky, truffle-scented sauce. I’d definitely take the time to reduce the sauce by about half to the desired consistency rather than try to thicken it. It doesn’t take that much longer, and flavorwise, you’re much better off. Add your ingredients to the pot and use a metal ruler to measure the depth and record the number. When your ingredients have simmered to half that number, you’re ready to move on. You may not have quite as much sauce, but you really only need about 2 tablespoons truffled richness per serving anyways. Be careful when sautéing the foie gras to avoid ending up with a pan of hot fat. I found that 30 to 40 seconds on each side in the hot pan was enough. When prepping the foie gras, remove it from the packaging, salt and pepper it, and then return it to the fridge. It will be easier to sauté if it’s a bit chilled.
Originally published December 27, 2009