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St. Valentine's Beef Tenderloin, Polenta, Creamed Spinach


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  • 9 ounces center-cut beef tenderloin trimmed of all
  • fat and membrane
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper as needed
  • 2 bacon slices diced
  • 1/4 pound black trumpet mushrooms trimmed, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot peeled, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon white truffle oil to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 3 basil leaves chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1/2 pound spinach washed, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch freshly-ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil


Servings 2


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Tie the meat and season it with salt and pepper.

In a medium-sized skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until barely crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium-high and sear the beef on all sides in the remaining bacon fat.

Remove the meat and pour off most of the grease. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften. Gather the mushrooms together in the center of the pan and place the beef on top.

Transfer the whole pan to the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The beef is cooked to medium when it is firm to the touch, offering just slight resistance. Remove the beef and mushrooms from the pan and reserve them on a plate.

Set the pan on medium heat and add the butter and shallots. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the dry red wine and simmer. Continue cooking until the wine is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.

Now return the mushrooms to the skillet, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate from the mushrooms and the meat. Stir in the truffle oil, chives, basil, and bacon. Adjust the seasoning. If the mushrooms absorb too much liquid, you may want to add a tablespoon of water.

Untie and slice the meat and place the slices on a bed of the creamed spinach. Arrange the baked polenta on the plate and drizzle with the pan sauce just before serving.

For the Creamed Spinach: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft. Add the spinach. Using tongs, continue to cook and turn for another minute. Add the salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Remove the spinach and set aside to drain on paper towels.

Add the cream to the remaining liquid, continuing to simmer. Continue to simmer gently until the cream thickens to the consistency of a sauce. Return the spinach to the skillet and coat with the reduced cream. Serve immediately.

For the Polenta Gratin: Bring the water to a boil and whisk in the polenta in a very thin stream. Stir constantly, allowing the mixture to return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and continue to cook, stirring periodically.

The polenta is done cooking when it forms a heavy mass. It should pull cleanly away from the sides of the pot when stirred.

Oil the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan and scoop the polenta into it, spreading in an even layer about 3/4 -inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the polenta is firmly set, cut it into shapes with a cookie cutter. For this dish, a heart-shaped cutter is perfect.

Press the oiled side of each shape into the grated cheese and transfer the shapes, cheese-side down, to a lightly oiled nonstick skillet.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. When golden brown, turn the shapes out onto plates and serve browned-side up.

This recipe yields 2 servings.

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