A couple weeks ago I wrote about the impressive way San Francisco chef Gary Danko wraps a loin of meat or a filet of fish in a delicate “crust.” Sometimes the crust is minced herbs, sometimes it’s crushed hazelnuts or pistachios, sometimes fragrant juniper berries or tangy horseradish. The contrast between the coating of crunch and the juicy, scarlet-hearted meat is stunning.
Danko was willing to share a recipe with me. Here’s his Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Orange-Juniper Crust. Chef Danko normally makes the dish with bison, but I doubt that I have a lot of readers game for that adventure. The filet is served with creamed porcini mushrooms, caramelized baby onions and handmade spätzle. If you don’t have time for the whole production, I’d suggest pairing the filet with buttery mashed potatoes and calling it a huge success.
Roast Loin of Bison with Porcini Mushrooms, Cioppolini Onions and Herb Spätzle
3 pounds of bison loin or beef tenderloin, cleaned of all fat and connective tissue and tied every inch with butchers twine
1 quart beef stock, reduced to 1 cup
For the Orange-Juniper Crust
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
¼ teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon chopped sage
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Prepare orange-juniper crust by blending all ingredients in a small bowl. This may be done ahead of time. Prepare beef tenderloin and tie every inch with butchers twine. Pat orange crust onto the surface of the meat. Let rest, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours.
To roast, place loin on a sheet pan fitted with a rack. Roast in a 350 degree oven until rare for 20 to 30 minutes or until 125 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the twine, lightly salt the surface of the meat and slice thinly. Arrange on plate or platter with the heated mushrooms, Cioppolini onions and herb Spätzle. Bring beef stock to a boil, season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon over the meat. Serve.
3/4 pound all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound spinach, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, cooled, and wrung out in paper towels
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon minced tarragon
In a bowl combine the flour, nutmeg and salt. In an electric blender combine the blanched spinach, chives, parsley, tarragon and water and puree until smooth, add the eggs and milk. Whisk into the flour mixture until you achieve a thick sticky paste. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Force the paste through a sieve into the boiling water. Allow the Spätzle to float to the top. Remove from water and cool in cold water. Do in small batches. Drain, coat with a small amount of oil and keep cold until needed.
To reheat, combine 2 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, season with salt and add Spätzle. Return to boil and simmer until hot. You may hold it in the oven for a few minutes. The Spätzle should absorb the liquid and should be still be separate. If too dry, add more liquid; if too wet, drain before serving.
Caramelized Cioppolini onions
1 pound Cioppolini onions, peeled, leaving the root end trimmed but still attached
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
Salt to taste
In a sauté pan large enough to hold the onions in a single layer, melt butter. Place onions in the pan and cook over medium heat until they start to turn golden brow, be careful not to burn them. Shake the pan often, tossing the onions around. Deglaze with white wine and balsamic vinegar and reduce to a glaze. Add chicken stock and pinch of salt and simmer until rich brown and tender. Onions should remain whole. Set aside and gently reheat when needed.
1 pound porcini or shiitake mushrooms, cleaned or any dirt and cut into smaller pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon grated garlic
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt to taste
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in sauté pan. Add mushrooms and sauté until all the liquids have concentrated. In the center of the pan melt the remaining butter, quickly stir the garlic and parsley into the melted butter and then mix in all the mushrooms. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Stir in the cream and reduce to a thickness that will just cling to the mushrooms. Salt to taste. Reserve and gently reheat when needed.