Monday, January 21, 2008

Fournou's Beef

Three or four years ago, my husband and I enjoyed dinner at Fournou's Oven, in San Francisco, where I made note of a beef dish: "Beef filet with blue cheese crust, with mashers and roasted forest mushrooms, in a cabernet reduction." (A glance at the menu shows that they still serve something similar, although they grill the beef now.) A week or two ago, I ran across the note and decided to make that for Sunday dinner. So I tackled it last night.

First challenge: how to make a blue cheese crust. I thought about bread crumbs first, as the usual binder for something like this. But looking in my refrigerator, I discovered about a cup of leftover mashed potatoes and decided to use that. I put the mashed potatoes, a wedge of blue cheese, and a little Worchestershire sauce in the food processor and ran it until everything was a consistent mash. I put the beef roast (eye of round) on a tinfoil-covered pan and carefully spread the mash over the top, then stuck it in a 350 degree oven to cook; it took about an hour to cook, I think. I let it sit for 15-20 minutes after it came out of the oven.

Second challenge: how to roast mushrooms. I have no idea how it is normally done and I'm too lazy to look it up, so I just tossed my mushrooms (crimini, oyster, enoki) into a roasting pan and stuck them in the oven. I think I will try something different next time, because the enoki mushrooms stuck to the pan and I lost too many of them; maybe I'll just sautee them. In the meantime, I put some dried shitake mushrooms in hot water to rehydrate.

Third challenge: mashers. I know how to make them, but I just served them three days ago. Then I was going to make oven-roasted fries, but I forgot to tell my daughter not to eat the potatoes and I didn't have enough left. Luckily, I had picked up some Co-op baguettes at the store and could slice those to serve.

Fourth challenge: that cabernet reduction. I dumped a couple cups of (inexpensive) red wine in a skillet, along with about a cup of the water from the shitakes, and boiled it until it was reduced by half. It still wasn't syrupy enough to do what I wanted, so I added the shitake mushrooms, cut up, and cooked that for a bit. Then I pulled the roasted mushrooms out of the oven and dumped them in the wine too. To thicken the sauce, I added a stick of butter and simmered for a few more minutes.

Now to pull it all together. I sliced the beef very carefully, trying to keep the crust in place (with only moderate success) and put it on the plates, with a little crust on top of it. The mushrooms and red wine went to the side, and I served the bread on the table. Even though the crust presentation wasn't perfect, it was a very tasty meal with a good zinfandel wine; the best bites had both beef and mushrooms.

To do differently next time: A richer piece of meat would support the blue cheese better. Some bread crumbs might make the crust stay put better. I'll sautee the mushrooms in butter instead of roasting them, then add the red wine at the end (or after removing the mushrooms). But it is definitely worth trying again next winter.

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