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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Châteaubriand - My Absolute Favourite Menu Option For Home Entertaining

Serves All Palates

When done right, Chateaubriand is amongt the most flavoursome and tender meat cuts Ever!

There is something very charming about Châteaubriand  I love serving this dish when entertaining at home! It is probably among the most flavoursome and tender meat concoctions, especially when done right. Personally, I prefer meats blue (a step below rare). Honestly, a proper meat cut needs no more than, black pepper, salt and a good searing all over. That is it, and just allow the meat to speak its own volumes about its goodness. This is the thing about good produce, really you need not do much with it. However, if you prefer meats a notch more cooked, then go for rare, or even medium, but do not kill it with overcooking! Especially with a Châteaubriand, you lose the goodness of this dish with an overcooked meat. It is a crime!

What is Châteaubriand?
Châteaubriand (also known as Châteaubriant) is a recipe utilising a particular cut from the beef tenderloin. Connoisseurs insist that the term refers to the quality of the beef bred around the Châteaubriant town in the Loire-Atlantique, France. They might even suggest that unless that specific meat is used, the dish cannot be classified as authentic Châteaubriand! However, the tenderloin from other breeds have been used in the making of this dish, and some critics argue that as long as the right cut from the right part of the tenderloin is used, the dish is by all means a Châteaubriand. Therefore this cut of meat has become known as the Châteaubriand cut. 

The cut is the thick part of the Tenderloin situated between the Rump and Sirloin

Despite the technicalities of the meat cut, the story of this recipe goes way before the classification. It's been known that this recipe was developed by personal Chef Montmireil, for the French author François-René de Chateaubriand. François-René was The Secretary of State for two years for Louis XVIII as well as a diplomat serving Napoleon. Because the recipe was developed for such high ranking personality, as well as its use of a more expensive meat cut, it has always been associated with luxury dining. 

Châteaubriand is classically served with a reduction of white wine and shallots, softened with demi-glace, then mixed with butter, herbs and lemon juice. Nowadays, it is traditionally served with - and best complimented by - a Béarnaise sauce. Also traditionally, some boiled vegetables are slightly cooked with the remaining butter from cooking the Châteaubriand, and then all are served surrounding the meat, sprinkled with finley chopped herbs.

This is a Classic French Recipe that is exceptionally good and always impressive to serve. And since we are going for less-traditional Festive Dinners this season, I thought I must include this marvelous dish to the repertoire of recipes on this blog for you to try.

Festive or any other occasion, you will love serving this beautiful dish of exquisite meat surrounded by assorted accompanying vegetables complimented by the delicious Béarnaise sauce.

Here is how it's made...



Châteaubriand

If you have access to a gourmet independant butcher, then all you have to do is ask for a Châteaubriand. They will know what you are talking about, and will give you exactly that. If you don't and your Butcher is clueless, ask for the thick part of the Beef Tenderloin. Go for the best quality meat available, because at the end of the day, the meat is the star of this dish.

I have gone for roasted vegetables as a side. Roast the vegetables separately, simply sprinkle with salt, black pepper and drizzle olive oil all over them. Add a sprinkling of fresh thyme all over. For deeper flavour, cut 20 g butter into small cubes and sprinkle them over the vegetables too. Roast in a preheated oven (450 F) until slightly browned and cooked through, making sure to turn throughout.

You Need
The thick part of Beef Tenderloin (size depending what's available, go for the biggest available if serving 6 - 8)
50 g butter
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Black pepper to taste
2-3 large vines Cherry tomatoes, keep on the vine

Châteaubriand
For Béarnaise sauce
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 springs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped 
1/2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
Squeeze of lemon juice 
3 egg yolks
150 g butter, cut into small cubes
Salt & Black pepper to taste

For Accompanying Vegetables
1 Butternutsquash, roasted
1 Kg new potatoes, roasted
1 Kg new carrots, trim the stems leaving a short bit intact, roasted

For Garnish
Fresh Thyme Leaves
A few fresh chives, finely chopped


Start by roasting your vegetables, making sure to turn them throughout the roasting.
Meanwhile make the Béarnaise sauce.
Boil some water in the bottom part of your double boiler (making sure the water won't touch the top part of the double boiler).

Meanwhile, In a small saucepan, mix together the vinegar, chopped shallot, the spring of thyme, the bay leave, salt and black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to reduce by half. Strain the vinegar mixture into the top part of your double boiler and discard the shallot and herbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. In a thin steady stream, while continuously whisking, pour the egg yolks into the vinegar until combined. Set the pot over the steaming simmering water and continue to whisk. Add the butter a cube at a time, whisking until fully incorporated before adding the next cube. Continue until all butter had been added. The mixture should be smooth, with no lumps and emulsified (not separated). Remove from heat and stir in the tarragon and parsley. Cover the top of the sauce with cling film, to prevent formation of skin, and keep in warm bain marie to keep warm. 
Do not reheat the sauce once cooled.



Make the Châteaubriand
Rub the Tenderloin with salt & Black pepper all over.
Place the butter and olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over high heat. Once the butter sizzles, add the meat and sear on all sides until the outside is browned and completely sealed. Top the seared meat with the cherry tomato vines and place in a 450 F oven for 5 minutes for rare and 10-12 minutes for medium. Remove the pan from the oven, and rest the Châteaubriand for 10 minutes on a wire rack, covered with foil.

In the meantime, Arrange your vegetables on a serving plate and sprinkle with thyme leaves and chopped chives. Place the Châteaubriand on a wooden chopping board or slice it and arrange it on a serving plate.
Serve with the Béarnaise sauce in a sauce boat on the side.

Despite being known as a technical dish, Châteaubriand is not that hard to make. There is always a chance that the sauce may split, but if you follow the instructions precisely, I guarantee you, it will work like a charm. This is one of my favourite recipes, and one that everybody loves. Give it a try and serve it to your family and friends, and see how they are going to love you for it. They will even be looking forward for the next time you make it, which I know will be not too long after! It is that good :)

Hope you have enjoyed this post, and that you too will become a fan of the delicious Châteaubriand. Do let me hear from you, I love nothing more. Come back again soon for more not so traditional festive menu options that will tickle your taste buds.

Bon Appetit!

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