Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!

I do not believe in God; I believe in Julia Child. My friend Tom Steele, who has written cookbooks with many celebrity chefs, is the one who got me to thinking of Julia as The Deity. So to celebrate Julia’s 100th birthday, which would have been today had she still been around to raise a glass with us, I asked Tom for a little something. He obliged with one of Julia’s favorite recipes, which he adapted and rewrote. Find it after the jump.

Julia’s Fast Sauté of Beef for Two

(adapted from The Way to Cook, p. 195, made even faster)

The onions:
Cheat and microwave frozen pearl onions (plain)
Add a good pinch of dried tarragon

The potatoes:
3-4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
A pinch of tarragon
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

The mushrooms:
8 medium-large fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced shallots

The meat:
2 center-cut beef tenderloin steaks,
or the equivalent cut from a piece of tenderloin

The sauce:
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/3 cup dry white vermouth
1/3 cup beef stock
1/3 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter and canola oil

Microwave the pearl onions until done. Sprinkle with tarragon and set aside, keeping warm.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Dry them well. Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. After a few minutes, add a tablespoon each of butter and oil. When the butter has almost stopped foaming, add the potatoes. Sauté them without disturbing for 1 minute, lower the heat to medium-low, and stir the potatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute for about 15 minutes, stirring often. When lightly browned and tender, keep them just warm, uncovered.

Trim the mushrooms and cut them into quarters. Sauté them for several minutes in hot butter in a second frying pan, adding the shallots at the end, just as the absorbed butter reappears on their surface and they begin to brown. Turn the mushrooms into a large side dish.

Cut the meat into 1 1/2-inch chunks and dry the chunks well. Set the mushroom pan over moderately high heat, adding a little butter and oil. When very hot, almost smoking, add the meat. Brown, tossing frequently for several minutes. The beef must be very rare because it gets a little more cooking later. Toss it with a sprinkling of salt, and scrape into the mushroom side dish.

Spoon all but a tablespoon of fat out of the pan, stir in the shallots, and sauté for a moment, then pour in the wine and stock. Boil rapidly and reduce to almost a syrup before adding the cream.

Scrape the beef, onions, and mushrooms into the pan and bring to the simmer, basting with the sauce, just to warm the beef through without overcooking. It should be rosy rare. Taste the sauce carefully and correct seasoning.

Toss the potatoes over high heat to crisp them, adding a tablespoon of butter, the tarragon and parsley.

Divide the meat between two of your brown plate/bowls, strew the hot potatoes over the meat, and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

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