Tenderloin with red wine sauceThe theme tonight? Make what I’ve got available here at home!

Why? Because I’m broke!

The question was, then, what do I make? Ah, remember that tenderloin I mentioned recently? Yeeeeeah. The question became, then, what the hell do I do with the hunk of beef I had? I couldn’t do the Au Poivre as I had hoped – no Cognac. I didn’t want to do the straight Port sauce because I’d done that last time. Oh yeah, I didn’t blog about that, did I? I’ll have to do that soon in some kind of rewind blogging. Either way, what I did have was the fixings for a basic red wine sauce: red wine (A French Toque et Clochers Occursus), beef broth (which I’d picked up earlier at a local Henry’s – they suck, by the way), shallots, thyme, and butter. Voila! Red wine sauce. Throw in some garlic confit and some fried potatoes and I’m dining French bistro style only in my small apartment in Carlsbad, CA about five billion miles away from France.

For a throw-together meal, it turned out pretty damned all right. Pan frying the steak (to brown all sides, of course) and then throwing it in the oven at 375 is the best way to keep what flavor that flavorless tenderloin does have (tenderloins might be tender as all hell – as the name implies – but it certainly does lack in that delectable beef flavor that other, more hearty cuts have). It’s all about the prep, folks – you may have a delicious cut of beef but if it isn’t prepared properly, it’ll just end up being delicious tire fodder for your teeth. The pan sauce comes straight from a basic sauce 101 technique: 1) sauté a diced shallot in the pan you cooked the steak in, making sure to pick up all the fond using the butter and olive oil already in the pan (yeah, the steak was fried in a bit of both) 2) add a quarter cup or so of the red wine and reduce by half 3) add a sprig or two of thyme and a cup of the beef broth, whisk and reduce by half, again 4) strain to another sauce pan and reduce further until the sauce is thick and covers the back of a spoon 5) add butter, whisk to emulsify and make that sauce look like your favorite velvet coat 6) season lightly if needed. Want to know why I emphasized if needed? Because I was premature in seasoning and my sauce was a bit too salty in the end. Reducing the shit out of the sauce is how you get such a strong flavor – a lot of times you may not need salt and pepper at the end.

My plating ended up a bit messy because my sauce was traveling around based on my very askew surfaces in the kitchen. Nonetheless, I plated the steak (medium-rare after 8 minutes in the oven) on the sauce, and garnished with the garlic confit (remember those? I am a lover of the garlic confit), and fried potatoes. I’m full and a little buzzed off the wine I was drinking now and I’m happy as hell. French food on the fly – and on the cheap.

Tonight’s dinner was brought to you by: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers With Thelonious Monk. Oh yeah.