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Fast Food My Way: Instant Beef Tenderloin Stew

The name is a bit misleading; this is more of a meat-and-vegetable skillet than it is a stew. There's no real sauce, since the veggies and steak are cooked in separate pans and then combined at the last minute. It's a very good recipe, although I'd make a couple of small adjustments.

Pépin has the cook prepare the stew vegetables in one pan, and the meat in another. He instructs you to combine potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms and cook them for about 8 minutes. He then says to add some chopped onion and garlic and cook for only another 2 to 3 minutes. This left the garlic particularly pungent, and since there's a full tablespoon of it in the recipe, it was a bit overwhelming. It also took longer than 8 minutes for the potatoes and carrots to cook all the way through. I recommend that you brown the potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and garlic and cook them all together, slowly, for about 10 to 15 minutes. That way, the root vegetables get completely cooked, and the garlic won't be quite so overpowering.

The vegetables pictured in the book look a bit daintier than the ones I found in my market. If your baby carrots aren't nice and thin, cut them in half lengthwise. Similarly, if you can't find really small button mushrooms, slice bigger ones in half or quarters. Everything should be bite-sized.

The recipe calls for white wine to deglaze the pan. I've found that if I don't have open bottles of wine sitting around in the refrigerator, dry vermouth is an excellent substitute in most savory recipes. It keeps indefinitely in the cupboard, and it's a good investment if you do a lot of cooking that calls for small amounts of white wine. Gallo and Noilly-Prat are both good brands.

To streamline preparation, get the vegetables cooking first, then slice up the beef. Sear the meat when the veggies are completely cooked, right after you've added the peas. The recipe rather confusingly calls for the steak to be transferred to a platter all by itself after it is seared off, and then the pan is deglazed with wine and stock. Pépin then says to "arrange the meat, vegetables, and juices on four warmed plates and serve immediately." In other words, the text of the recipe never calls for the meat and vegetables to be combined together in one pan. But the accompanying photo of the dish shows the meat and vegetables all together in a skillet. It seems more sensible to me to prepare the recipe this way: First cook the vegetables. When the vegetables are done, sear the meat. Add the seared meat to the vegetables. Deglaze the pan in which you cooked the meat, and pour the juices over the meat and veggies. Mix it all up, and serve.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced (1/2 inch) potatoes (about 1 large Yukon Gold, or 1 medium Russet), rinsed to remove starch
1 cup baby carrots (about 4 oz.), halved lengthwise if necessary
1 cup small white button mushrooms (about 2 oz.), halved or quartered if necessary
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup baby peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp white wine or dry vermouth
2 Tbsp chicken stock

Heat 1 Tbsp of butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. Brown lightly for about 3 or 4 minutes, then add the onion and garlic and cover the pan loosely. Turn the heat down to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the peas and 1/4 tsp of the salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.

While vegetables are cooking, slice the meat and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 tsp of salt and the pepper. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter in another large skillet over high heat. Add the meat to the skillet in one layer and sear without stirring for 2 minutes. Turn the meat and sear for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the meat to the vegetable skillet.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine or vermouth and the chicken stock, bringing the liquid to a boil and stirring to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add these juices to the other skillet and stir to combine with the meat and vegetables. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps a green salad.



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