Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Beef Tenderloin Bites on a Bed of Arugula

Cooking at home is all about using the best ingredients you can get your hands on and making due with what you have at your fingertips, especially when grocery shopping happens right after a long and exhausting work day. It is also about finding new and tasty things to add to your repertoire and improving on your basic cooking skills. So tonight we went with Beef Tenderloin Bites on a Bed of Arugula, along with a Roasted Beet, Onion and Orange salad.
Now first off, beef tenderloin, as the gentleman at the meat counter today explained, is another word for Fillet Mignon. And Fillet Mignon is another word for $25 per pound. The meat-guy looked at me sideways when I told him I was going to chop it up into little bites, cover in breading, and broil. So, we went with the top sirloin instead, which is slightly more economical. It should also be noted that the "gourmet" grocery store I shop at did not have arugula, so we had to settle with red leaf lettuce. Turned out to be pretty good anyway. It should also also be noted that apparently I cannot tell the difference between regular parsley and cilantro. If any of you are having trouble identifying your herbs, please consult with the closest store employee. I am seeking professional help for my apparent herb-related dementia and hope to recover quickly.

Beef Tenderloin (Sirloin) Bites on a Bed of Arugula (or Red Leaf Lettuce)

1 1/2(ish) cups bread crumbs
(I used fresh bread chopped up in a food processor, but only because I like to make more of a mess than necessary. You can buy pre-packaged crumbs that would work just as nicely.)
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, (couple of handfuls)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2 to 3lbs Top Sirloin or Tenderloin steaks, about 2 to 4 steaks, depending on how many people you are serving.
Salt & Pepper
5 to 6 cups arugula (or red leaf lettuce), chopped
1 lemon, halved

Preheat broiler to high.
Mix bread crumbs with parsley, cheese. Warm the oil and garlic over low head to infuse flavor, about 5 min. Pour oil into bread crumbs and combine to distribute equally and moisten the bread crumbs.
Season the meat with salt & pepper. Coat the meat in bread crumb mixture to coat evenly. Spread meat onto baking sheet and broil until crisp and meat tender, about 6 to 7 min. Serve meat on bead of shredded arugula (red leaf lettuce). Squeeze lemon juice over beef and arugula.

Roasted Beet, Onion, and Orange Salad

1LB beets, preferably small ones
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
20 large pearl onions, about 1/2lb
4 oranges, 2 peeled and cut into wedges, 2 juiced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro (Basil works fine, too, in the absence of cilantro)
OPTIONAL: Grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the stems and tails off the beets. Do not peel. Line the bottom of a baking pan with foil. Place the beets in the pan and toss them with half of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.

Trim both ends off the pearl onions. Then toss them with remaining olive oil and salt and pepper. Add pearl onions to the beets and roast an additional 15 minutes, until beets and onions are tender.

Peel and remove the membranes from the oranges with a sharp paring knife. Cut the oranges in half lengthwise and then crosswise into thin slices. Seed the slices, if necessary.

Peel and quarter the beets. Lay the beets on a large platter. Top the beets with the orange pieces. Scatter the roasted onions around the beats.
In a medium bowl, combine the hazelnut oil, coriander, and orange juice. Whisk until well combined and season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing on top and sprinkle with coriander and grated cheese.

I would recommend getting the beets and onions going first before starting to work on the meat. You will have 25 mins while the beets cook and an additional 15 while the onions cook to get the meat ready to cook and onto the baking sheet. And, if you are like me and only have one oven, you will need to have the vegetables out of the oven before you turn on the broiler and cook the meat. If you have the time and the extra hands, get the bread crumb mixture ready while your significant other/neighbor/dancing partner preps the beets and gets them in the oven. This will give you both plenty of time to bond while chopping all of the other vegetables. Many thanks to Rachel Ray and Michael Chiarello of Food Network for creating these dishes.