The Easiest Dish for a Crowd

October 22, 2010

What I wanted was a ham. I should have ordered one in the mail, because in this not quite holiday season, a great ham is hard to find. And so, because I’m lazy and a lot of people were coming to dinner, I settled for a filet of beef. (Actually, 3 of them.)

It is (next to ham, which needs nothing more than an oven to warm it up in), the easiest way to feed a crowd. But how to make it special?

I made this sauce – which really adds a wonderful zing of flavor. But I wanted something more. Pawing around in my spice cupboard I found an overlooked jar of truffle salt, and although it was old, I opened it anyway. The flavor literally leaped out of the jar and filled up the kitchen – it was that intense – and so I patted my filet dry (this is important) and sprinkled it liberally all over the filet before browned the meat in the pan. Even two days later I could still detect that wonderful truffle scent in my hair.

You brown a 3 to 3 1/2 pound filet in a pan until all sides have turned a nice brown, then cook it in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes (it should be at 120 degrees). Let it rest for at least 15 minutes (you can serve it at room temperature if you like), so it gets to 130 degrees for rare. Slice, inhaling the fine truffle perfume, and serve the rosy beef with this sauce.

Cook ¾ cups of minced shallots in 2 ½ cups of white wine until the wine is reduced to about ½ cup.

Mix a stick of soft, sweet butter with a third cup of mustard. Add to the cooled shallot-wine mixture with a couple tablespoons of cream and a half cup of cornichon pickles that have been thinly sliced into julienne strips.

This will generously feed 6 people

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  • Hi again:)
    I read your reply in regards to a couple questions I had regarding some things in Comfort me With Apples, and I thought it might be easier to just ask them under your more recent post.
    Anyhow, the first thing I am dying to know is about “Mr. Chan” and if you ever found out what happened to him. You mentioned returning to his shop when you returned from your trip to China, but he had vanished. Also, when you asked some of his ‘friends’, they said they didn’t know who you were talking about. Later, as I was looking through the photo section of your book, there is a man in one of your picures, Wayne Wang, who had just finished directing the film “Chan is Missing”. When I looked up that film title in the IMDb, it didn’t seem to mention if any of the characters were based on an actual living person or true events. I am really really curious if you ever found out what actually happened, and if there was anything suspicious about the letter you carried to his frined in China. What did you end up doing with the note for Mr. Chan from Mr. Chen?
    I feel like I might be missing something, but I was also wondering about the “armadillo”. Do you have any thoughts on what that mystery meat could have been? Did you ever find out?
    Thanks for your time,

  • Alison says:

    Hi, your book says to cook a 3 to 4 lb filet at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. This says 350 degrees. Do you find that it’s better at the higher temperature or lower? Or doesn’t it really matter? Thanks

  • admin says:

    I don’t really think it matters all that much – you basically are going to use the thermometer to get to temperature – but I’d go with 350.

    Apologies! (At Gourmet we were always finding that we were suggesting different temperatures for the same cut of meat, so I don’t feel as guilty as I ordinarily would.)