na zdorovie!

November 22nd, 2011

I spent several weeks honing a four-course Russian menu for our Spring Fling party yesterday.  Friday’s weather forecast warned of sub-zero temperatures for the day and a mad panic then ensued to revamp the menu to keep it appropriate for the weather.

Out went the Wood-grilled Pork Shashlik and in came Filet Mignon Bourguignon.  The tiny Buckwheat Crepes filled with Smoked Trout and Crème Fraiche were replaced by a Duo of Smoked Salmon Rilletttes.

The Baked Mushrooms topped with Savory Custard was suddenly redundant and the Sauerkraut Salad with Onion Rye Flatbread utterly unsuitable for a Bourguignon.  A simple Green Salad with Dill Vinaigrette and Puff Pastry Sticks became the accompaniments for the entrée.

The dessert course, Fresh Fruit Pavlova, delicious though it is, is not generally enjoyed in front of a blazing fireplace, but something that at least hinted of spring’s arrival would be nice, so I whipped up a Genoise cake and layered it with Strawberry Chantilly in parfaits glasses.

In the course of one day and one weather forecast, our Spring Fling had turned into a Sprung Flung and the highly anticipated Russian feast looked more like a Franco-Russian Alliance, but no flavor was lost in the translation and only I knew of the hurdles bounded to get that luxurious dinner on the table.

Our Cinqo de Mayo party isn’t going to encounter any last minute overhauls because I’m going to start out with two menus, just in case it snows.


Related Recipes

Filet Mignon Bourguignon

I like to prepare Boeuf Bourguignon with the finest cuts of beef, a two-inch tower of tightly trimmed filet mignon, roasted to medium-rare perfection and plunked atop the rest of the bourguignon mélange, each participant of which is carefully sautéed solo and sent to bathe in a righteously rich beef and wine sauce.  C’est très magnifique!

Select the largest skillet you own for cooking the bacon and all the vegetables, in the order indicated below.  The bacon drippings infuse each element beautifully.

For four supreme servings:

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon cognac
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 4 6-ounce filet mignons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Render and reserve bacon:  In a large skillet, cook bacon strips until crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on paper toweling.  Leave bacon drippings in the skillet.  Crumble four of the strips and set aside.  Store remaining strips for another use.

Trim and brown potatoes:  Peel potatoes and cut into rectangular shapes.  Reheat bacon drippings over medium-high heat and sauté potatoes until golden and tender.  Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Slice and caramelize onions:  Peel onions and cut into petal strips.  Reheat bacon drippings over medium-high heat and sauté onions until lightly caramelized and tender.  Remove onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Cut and blister carrots:  Peel carrots and slice into thin disks.  Reheat bacon drippings over medium-high heat and blister the carrots just until tender.  Remove carrots with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Trim and sauté mushrooms:  Clean mushrooms and quarter.  Add one tablespoon butter to skillet and melt over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Prepare beef gravy:  The skillet should mostly be dry by this point.  If not, pour off any remaining drippings.  Over medium heat, carefully swirl in one tablespoon cognac and allow to evaporate completely.  Melt four tablespoons butter and add flour and garlic.  Whisk to incorporate and toast the flour just until it’s golden.  Pour in one cup warm beef stock and whisk until thickened.  Add remaining three cups stock and the wine and bring to a gentle boil.  Remove any foam or scum that develops.  Allow mixture to reduce from five cups liquid to approximately four cups liquid and pour into a 2-quart saucepan.  Add all cooked vegetables and keep warm if serving immediately or cover and set aside until ready to serve.

Pan roast beef filets:  Season filets with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and allow to come up in temperature for 20-30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  When oil has almost reached the smoking point, add filets and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Turn filets and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes or until nicely browned on both sides.  Immediately put skillet in the oven and roast filets until they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees.  Remove filets to a warn plate and cover and let rest for five minutes.

Assemble dish:  Into warm soup plates, ladle a generous portion of the vegetable-gravy mixture.  Top each with a filet and a sprinkling of the reserved bacon crumbles.  Serve immediately.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.