27 February 2009

Southwestern Spiced Beef Tenderloin with Chipotle Mashed Potatoes, Lemon Crema and Wilted Spinach

Long name but what if I told you that you could have all of this on the table within 40 minutes? You might be doubtful at first, but with a little planning you can do it quite easily.

I couldn't decide what to make for Valentine's Day dinner, but after getting the recipe for the
spiced flourless chocolate cakes I thought that the main course should have a similar flavor profile, a bit spicy, to make it seem like a real menu, not just things thrown together for dinner. I went through my old issues of Cuisine at Home, looking for inspiration and came across the recipes mentioned above. It seemed like more fuss than I usually bother with, but as it was Valentine's Day I decided it would be worth it. Once I started cooking though, I realized that this menu is deceptively simple.

Nothing about it is hard, tricky or complicated and it's easy to keep components warm as you make them, so there is no last minute freakout as you realize that the steaks are done but your potatoes have 5 minutes to go. The chipotle mashed potatoes add a new flavor to an old standby and the lemon crema tames the heat and brings a bit of richness and extravagance to the party. Garlicky wilted spinach adds a burst of bright green color and texture contrast and serves as the perfect nest for a piece of spice encrusted beef tenderloin.

I'm usually a bit nervous about butchering a decent cut of steak since I only make it twice a year, but the cooking technique I used (a mash of America's Test Kitchen and Alton Brown's methods) makes it foolproof. I hope that you'll try out this menu for your next dinner party, or special occasion at home dinner- I will definitley be making it again.

When I was cooking I wished that I had a breakdown of when to do what, instead of 5 recipes on a page without any direction so I've put together this timing list. I hope it's helpful

Southwestern Spiced Beef Tenderloin with Chipotle Mashed Potatoes, Lemon Crema and Wilted Spinach
Adapted from Cuisine at Home
Serves 2, with room for dessert

Timing Notes:
-1 hour before cooking, put beef on the counter to take the chill off
-15 minutes before cooking, turn oven on to 200F, take out all your ingredients and line them up on the counter
Cooking starts:
-Put steaks in oven
-Peel potatoes, chop and set to boil boil
-Make lemon crema
-Make compound butter
-Prep additions to the potatoes
-Drain and mash potatoes, reserving the liquid.
-Take steaks out of the oven and sear on the stove, set aside to rest.
-Wilt spinach.
-Plate and enjoy.

For the Beef:

1 t. brown sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. chili powder
a few grinds of pepper
2 beef tenderloin filets, about 4oz (120g) each
1 t. vegetable oil

- Preheat oven to 200F.

- Mix the sugar and spices and press the top and bottom of each fillet (leave the sides unseasoned)) in the mix. Insert a probe thermometer into one of the filets and set the alert temp. to 95F (for very rare). Bake filets on a wire rack above a pan for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature is achieved.

- Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat with the vegetable oil until it begins to smoke. Sear the steaks for about 45 seconds on each side or until they develop a brown crust. You can sear the sides as well if you like. Set the filets aside to rest for a few minutes and serve.

For the Spuds:

1/2 lb (500g) potatoes
1/2 C. half and half
1 T. scallion, thinly sliced
1 chipotle en adobo, minced (start easy on the peppers, they're spicy)
salt and pepper to taste

- Peel the potatoes and cut into uniformish chunks. Put in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes (I drained the water into a metal bowl so I could pour it back into the pot and use it as a double boiler to keep the potatoes warm)

- Let the potatoes dry in the pot for a minute or two. Heat the half and half. Put the potatoes in a heat safe bowl and then mash them with as much cream as you like and chipotle as you dare. Mix in the scallions and add salt and pepper to taste.

- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set over a double boiler to keep warm.

For the Lemon Crema:

2 T. lowfat sour cream
2 t. lemon juice
zest of about 1/4 a lemon

- Mix it all together in a little bowl and chill till ready to plate

For the Compound Butter:

2 t. butter, softened
1 t. chopped parseley, or celery leaves
a bit of lemon zest (depends how much you like it)
a little squeeze of lemon juice

- Mix it all together and then stash it in the fridge until ready to use

For the Garlic Wilted Spinach

1 clove garlic, smashed
1 t. olive oil
6 oz (180g) baby spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste

- Add the garlic and olive oil to a skillet large enough to hold the spinach. Heat over medium low until the garlic get lightly browned. Add the spinach and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until just wilted and then plate immediately.

For the assembly:

- Divide the spuds evenly between the plates.

- Top each with half of the lemon crema.

- Split the spinach between the plates and set it on top of the crema.

- Perch a filet of beef on top and finish it all off with a pat of the compound butter.

- Enjoy.


kat said...

That meal looks worthy of the best steak house!

Boiler Installation said...

I had garlic spinach once before and I loved it. The photo looks delicious and I will give this a try one day for me and my husband. Thank you for sharing.