Tournedos with Polenta and Salsa Verde

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If one must talk about restaurants having signature dishes, then this has to be one of mine. It remains on the menu by popular demand. The combination of textures and flavours works so well: the fillet is beef at its best, moist and succulent, offset by the crisp polenta croûte which also absorbs the juices. The clean, sharp taste of the green sauce provides the perfect complement making a dish that has depth and balance.

Ingredients

  • four 140g/5 oz tournedos (trimmed beef fillet cut from the centre)
  • half packet (225g/8 oz) instant polenta
  • 115g/4 oz Parmesan cheese
  • 115g/4 oz unsalted butter
  • 150ml/¼pt beef stock
  • 5 tbsp dry sherry or Madeira salt and pepper
  • mignonette pepper
  • sunflower oil, for frying and greasing

For the Salsa Verde

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • bunch of basil or mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 150ml/¼pt extra virgin olive oil

Utensils

  • saucepan for making polenta, preferably non-stick
  • 2 baking trays
  • 2 heavy frying pans (one for the tournedos and the other for the polenta – they need to be large enough to cook all of the two elements at the same time)

Method

Mise en Place

Remove the steaks from the fridge well ahead of time to allow them to come to room temperature • Make the polenta at least 1 hour before you cook the steaks, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Grate the Parmesan cheese and lightly oil the baking tray. Then stir the cheese and half the butter into the polenta and season liberally with salt and pepper. Pour out on to the baking tray. You should have a sheet of polenta about 1 cm/1/2in thick. Leave to cool and then refrigerate. When cool and set firm, using a pastry cutter of a size slightly larger than the tournedos, cut 4 rounds from the sheet of polenta. Brush these with sunflower oil and lightly oil the pan. Also lightly oil the second baking sheet.

To make the Salsa Verde: finely chop the garlic and then put it in a food processor with all the other ingredients except the olive oil. Process until evenly chopped and then add the oil, continuing to process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to its highest setting.

Cooking

Put one of the frying pans on a moderate heat and melt half the remaining butter in it with 1 tablespoon of oil. Lightly season the polenta rounds and fry them for 1 minute on each side. Then transfer them to the oiled baking sheet Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully turn the polenta, using a spatula or palette knife. If it sticks and shows signs of breaking, put it back into the oven and cook for a little longer. As they start to crisp, the polenta rounds will lift round the edges and detach easily. After turning, put them back in the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. The idea is to have the polenta finished just before the steaks are ready.

Cook the steaks: heat the other frying pan dry until very hot. Flatten the tournedos slightly with the heel of the hand and season with salt and mignonette pepper. Cook over a high heat for 3 minutes on each side for rare, 4 minutes for medium.

Transfer the cooked steaks to a warm plate, cover and keep warm.

Pour the beef stock and sherry or Madeira into the pan and stir to deglaze, quickly reducing the liquid to a syrupy consistency. Add the remaining butter, a small piece at a time, swirling the pan until it incorporates. This finishes the texture of the sauce and gives it a beautiful gloss.

Serving

Put a crisp polenta croûte on each warmed plate and top with a tournedos. Stir into the sauce any juices that have exuded from the tournedos while resting and then spoon this over each steak before spreading the salsa verde on the top.

This dish has everything: subtle yet forceful, perfectly juxtaposed textures and a visual delight Faites simple indeed.

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