A stranger to American dining traditions wishing to familiarize himself with them will most likely, at some point, enter that veriest of traditional American eateries known as “The Steakhouse” and, almost certainly, somewhere on its menu, he will find this entry: Surf and Turf. Surf denotes a lobster tail and turf…a hefty grilled tenderloin steak usually going by the misnomer of ‘filet mignon’. Surf and Turf is an extravagance. Special occasions call for extravagance and this is the Steakhouse version of over-the-top dining on that special occasion.
Here is a home version of this Steakhouse tradition…a dinner menu including the requisite lobster and beef but diverging from the Steakhouse in their styles of preparation. Beef Tenderloin Stracotto Style with Fresh Spinach Pasta introduces this new Dinner Menu from the diplomatickitchen’s table: Surf and Turf Chez Laeuchli .
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.
Timing Note: The beef marinates for 1 hour before it is braised. If you live in a place where the beef is not of particularly good quality, marinating the tenderloin for a longer time will tenderize it. Good quality beef filet, however, shouldn’t be left in a marinade for a long period…the fibers may break down too much and the meat will not hold together when cooked. The fresh pasta is best if allowed to dry overnight before cooking.
- a 3-pound Beef Tenderloin Filet, tied…by the butcher or, if you must tie it yourself, simply tuck the short end of the filet under, wrap cotton kitchen string tightly around the length of the tenderloin and tie it. The result doesn’t have to be pretty.
- 2 and 1/2 cups of dry Red Wine
- about 1 cup of diced Yellow Onion, divided into two portions
- 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 stalk of Celery, diced
- 1 large or 2 smaller Carrots, unpeeled and diced
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated Nutmeg
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Whole Cloves
- 8 Tablespoons of Butter, divided into 2 equal parts of 4 Tablespoons each
- 1 ounce of Bacon, cut in strips crosswise or Pancetta, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons of White Flour
- Coarsely Ground Salt and Pepper to taste
- Fresh Spinach Pasta: The recipe is given below in Parts II and III. It appeared in this previous diplomatickitchen post and is reprinted here for convenient reference. The pasta is made a day ahead so that it may dry overnight before it is cooked.
- Sprigs of Fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley on each plate are a nice optional decoration.
- a lidded, deep Ceramic Casserole…or any deep Casserole made from a nonreactive material
- a large Strainer
- 3 Bowls
- a Food Processor or Blender
- a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized Pan
- a Whisk or Wooden Spoon
1. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add half the onion, the garlic, celery, carrot, nutmeg, bay leaves and cloves. Add the meat. Cover the casserole and marinate, refrigerated for an hour.
2. At the end of an hour, remove the meat from the casserole and pat it dry. Strain the marinade through the strainer into a bowl. Reserve the liquid and place the vegetables in another bowl and reserve them as well.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 F. (If the weather is hot and you don’t wish to heat up your kitchen, the meat may be braised on top of the stove instead.)
4. Wipe the casserole dry and add 4 Tablespoons of butter to it. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and the second half of the chopped onion and fry them until the bacon just begins to crisp around the edges and the edges of the onion begin to turn golden. Transfer the bacon and onion to a bowl and reserve them. Set the casserole off the heat for a minute so that the drippings don’t burn while you prepare the meat for browning.
5. Rub the meat with coarsely ground salt and pepper. Then rub the flour over it.
6. Heat the drippings in the casserole over medium heat until they are hot. Brown the meat in the drippings on all sides. Return the bacon and onion mixture and the reserved vegetables to the casserole and cook over a lowish-heat for 5 – 10 minutes until the vegetables just begin to turn golden around the edges. Pour in the reserved marinade, bring the mixture to a boil, then cover it and braise it in the oven until the meat is tender…1 – 2 hours. Alternatively, braise the beef, covered over a very low flame on top of the stove. Using either method, turn the meat occasionally as it braises so that both sides spend some time down in the cooking liquid. (Tenderloin in some parts of the world will become tender in an hour….If you live in a place where the beef is on the ‘rugged’ side, however, 2 hours is a good estimate for the cooking time.)
7. While the beef cooks, cut the second portion of butter (4 Tablespoons) into pieces and place it in the freezer.
8. Shortly before the meat is done, cook the pasta and have ready the warm oil and butter and Parmesan for mixing with the pasta once it is cooked. (See Part III below.)
9. When the meat is done, remove it to a platter and cover it lightly with foil to keep it warm while you make the sauce. Skim as much fat as possible from the surface of the braising liquid. Remove the bay leaves and cloves and discard them. Remove the 4 Tablespoons of butter from the freezer and set it nearby for finishing the sauce.
10. Place the braising liquid in a food processor or blender and process it until it forms a smooth sauce.
11. Pour the sauce into the heavy-bottomed pan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Turn down the heat to low. Whisk in the butter, a piece at a time, until all the butter is incorporated into the sauce. Remove the sauce from the heat.
12. Toss the pasta with the warm butter and oil and Parmesan. Cover it loosely while carving the meat.
13. Remove the string from the tenderloin and slice it. Arrange a bed of pasta on each plate. Place several slices of tenderloin on top of the pasta and spoon sauce over the meat:
Ingredients for the spinach pasta dough:
- 2 and 3/4 cups of Unbleached White Flour (360 grams)
- 3 large Eggs, beaten
- 8 ounces of Frozen Spinach or 12 ounces of Fresh Spinach
- a pot of salted boiling water in which to cook the spinach
- all other equipment is the same as for making plain pasta
1. Cook the frozen or fresh spinach in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain it, cool it, squeeze it as dry as possible and chop it up very fine by hand or in a processor.
2. Mix the spinach with the beaten eggs. Put the flour in the container of the processor fitted with a chopping blade. Turn on the processor and pour the eggs and spinach through the tube into the flour, holding down the top of the processor firmly with one hand as the dough forms. As soon as the dough leaves the sides of the processor and forms a ball, turn off the processor. Turn the dough out onto a pastry board and knead it for a minute or two. Like the dough for plain pasta, the spinach one will be soft and pliable–not sticky–after a minute or two of kneading:
3. Set up the pasta machine on the counter or kitchen work area. Divide the dough into as many pieces as there are eggs in it–in this case, into 3 parts. Cover two parts of the dough with a slightly damp cotton kitchen towel.
4. Place the third part of dough on a lightly floured pastry board and smooth a little flour over it. Set the rollers of the pasta machine on the lowest setting and feed the dough through them. Rub a little flour over the surface of the dough if it begins to stick as it goes through the rollers. Put the strip of dough through the rollers set on the lowest setting 3 times.
5. Cut each piece of rolled dough in half so that they will be easier to handle as they are rolled out more thinly. Fold the pieces of dough to form more regular shapes before feeding them through the rollers again:
6. Feed each piece of dough through the machine’s rollers, beginning at the lowest setting and passing it through the rollers once on each setting up to but not including the highest setting:
7. Cut the strips of dough by running them through the blade of the pasta machine used for cutting tagliatelle. To dry the pasta, lay it out flat, in a single layer, on lightly floured rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper (as illustrated in Part I above) or form the strips into nests. (If the pasta feels sticky or if the environment is humid, flat-drying is preferable.):
and slide them off your hand down onto the parchment, forming a loose nest…
9. Use a small strainer to sieve a little flour over the noodles. Cover the pans of pasta with cheesecloth and dry them overnight–preferably in a cool, dry place.
III. Fresh Spinach Pasta Redux…cooking the pasta
- 1 recipe of dried fresh Spinach Tagliatelle: See Part II above.
- 3 Tablespoons of Butter (about 42 grams)
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
- 3 Tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan
- a large Pot, sufficiently large so that the pasta is not crowded as it cooks–crowding might cause it to stick together.
- a small, lidded Saucepan for heating the butter and oil together before mixing with the pasta
- a colander
- a large Bowl
1. Melt the butter and olive oil in the saucepan over medium heat. Set it aside, covered, while cooking the pasta.
2. Fill a large pot with salted water, add a little olive oil to it and bring the water to a rolling boil. (Since the pasta is mixed with butter and oil, putting oil in the pot won’t prevent the sauce from adhering to the noodles.) If the water is boiling vigorously when the pasta added, the noodles will be less likely to settle on the bottom of the pot. Cook the tagliatelle for about 7 – 8 minutes. The pasta is done when there is no longer a white core in the center of a noodle but it is still a bit chewy…i.e. not soft through and through.
3. Drain the pasta well in the colander. Transfer it to a large bowl and toss it with the warm butter and oil and Parmesan. Divide the pasta among plates and arrange slices of beef on top of it as described in Part I above.
A Note: Beef Tenderloin Stracotto Style with Fresh Spinach Pasta is the Main Course of the Dinner Menu: Surf and Turf Chez Laeuchli.
Acknowledgement and Recommended Reading: The dk’s method of making pasta is adapted from one in Giuliano Hazan’s book How to Cook Italian (2005). This portion of the book is also exerpted here on his blog ‘Educated Palate’ . It is a lucid, well-written introduction to making pasta at home. The section on Pasta and Polenta in Alice Waters’ book The Art of Simple Food (2007) also is a useful introduction to pasta making.
A Second Note: For anyone wishing to make pasta without using a machine, here is a good step-by-step video at ‘Pasta Recipes Made Easy’, a website devoted solely to the subject of pasta.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012