Meat and potatoes, plus

Entertaining: When you have a yen for a stick- to-the-ribs yet distinctive dish, here's what to make.

May 16, 1999|By BETTY ROSBOTTOM | BETTY ROSBOTTOM,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

When a good friend called to say she would be in town to visit her son, who attends college nearby, I invited her to stay with us. I planned meals for the entire weekend, but as it turned out, her offspring, unenthusiastic about his dorm food, had his heart set on dining out in several area restaurants. His mother willingly complied, but it meant that my husband and I were able to share only one meal -- Sunday lunch -- with her.

Our friend indulged in all manner of ethnic foods, including Italian, Mexican and French, during her brief visit with her son, but mentioned that what she longed for most was meat and potatoes. It didn't take me long to find the recipe for a mustard-and-pepper-coated tenderloin served with a horseradish cream sauce, which I had created earlier in the spring. When I proposed that, along with herbed mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus, for our midday meal, my friend said she couldn't wait to try the menu.

The roast, coated with Dijon mustard, soy sauce, cracked pepper and thyme, is marinated for a few hours before roasting. To go with it, I prepared a new version of a horseradish sauce I knew from "The Frog Commissary Cookbook," by Steven Poses, Anne Clark and Becky Roller (Doubleday; 1985), a well-used tome in my kitchen library.

This entree, which was uncomplicated to prepare, was festive and could be used for spring celebrations. Graduations, weddings, anniversaries and Father's Day are just some occasions where a distinctive main course like this would be welcome.

The recipe serves six but can easily be doubled or tripled for larger gatherings.

Mustard-and-Pepper-Coated Beef Tenderloin With Horseradish Cream

Serves 6

BEEF:

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

1 (3-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed of all excess fat

HORSERADISH CREAM:

1 1/3 cups whipping cream plus 1 extra tablespoon if needed

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

3 1/2 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives

To prepare beef, whisk together, in small nonreactive bowl, mustard, soy sauce, thyme and ground black pepper. Place beef in shallow nonreactive pan and brush on all sides with about half of mustard mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.

When ready to roast meat, arrange oven rack at center position. Place roast on rack in roasting pan. Roast in oven at 350 degrees 45 to 55 minutes for medium-rare and until thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat reads 140 degrees. While meat is roasting, baste it once or twice with remaining mustard mixture. When done, remove and let cool 5 minutes before slicing.

To prepare Horseradish Cream, combine 1 1/3 cups cream, wine, shallots, horseradish, salt and pepper in medium, heavy skillet. Place over high heat and cook, stirring often, until mixture has thickened and reduced by about half, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. (Sauce can be prepared 2 to 3 hours ahead to this point. Leave uncovered at cool room temperature and reheat, stirring, when ready to use. If sauce separates when reheating, whisk in additional 1 tablespoon cream.)

To serve, slice meat into 1/2 -inch-thick slices and overlap on serving platter. Whisk chives into warm horseradish sauce. Drizzle some of the sauce over meat and pass remaining sauce separately.

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