Fillet bistro tournedos Rossini, hay-cooked celeriac purée, baby potatoes and celeriac dices roasted in duck foie gras fat, foie gras and red wine sauce
The tournedos normally refers to a slice of beef filet, possibly wrapped in a slice of bacon or pork fat ("barde"). The origin of the word is less "positive": it literally means "turn the back". When used in a culinary context, it originally referred to piece of fish or meat that were not presentable in the fishmonger or the butcher's stands, because of their cut or their age. Therefore, the product was turned back so that only the nice side was shown. But since in certain cases, ageing and maturing, in particular in case of beef or venison meat, is a recommended process, the word progressively lost its pejorative image to refer to something positive. Now, it normally refers to a 1.5-2 cm thick* piece of beef filet, possibly wrapped in a slice of bacon or pork fat ("barde"). Above 2 cm, i.e. from 2 to 4 cm thick, it is called a Chateaubriand. By extension, and with the current culinary trend consisting in renaming by analogy many cuts or preparations, it also refers to a round shaped piece of tender meat or fish.
There is another version that relates directly to the Rossini tournedos, named after the composer Rossini. Rossini was then a celebrity and as such, like all celebrities then and now, he used to indulge in caprices. Otherwise, you would not be a celebrity, correct. One day, one of Rossini’s caprices was to order a piece of beef, but he required to put foie gras and truffle on top of his meat. A bit showing off, Rossini, wasn’t he? As the restaurant owner didn’t want his other clients to see this custom-made order –the story doesn’t say if he was ashamed of it, if he didn’t want the other guests to order the same or if he was playing on the surprise effect- the waiter was asked not to show the dish and to present it hidden while turning his back... Nice story, but the term “tournedos” was apparently used before Rossini was born... But the tournedos Rossini remained.
In any case, and whatever the real story is, needless to say that today's tournedos are presentable from each single side.
Tournedos Rossini is classically a beef fillet tournedos, placed on a toast and topped with a foie grass ice and truffle chips… My version of the tournedos is a “cheap” one: I used bistro fillet instead of beef fillet; since bistro fillet is narrower than beef fillet, I was able to use foie gras trims, much cheaper than foie gras slices; and for the truffle… some purple potato chips and truffle oil to cook the celeriac served as a side…
Levels of difficulty
(incl. 2 hours for the celeriac)
§ 1 bistro fillet
§ 4-8 beautiful foie gras cubes (trims) for topping the tournedos – to keep frozen or in the top part of the fridge
§ 1-2 oz of smallest foie gras trims for the sauce
§ 1 whole celeriac with its green
§ 6 round slices (same diameter as the fillet) made in a good sandwich bread
§ 1 purple potato
§ 1/2 glass of red wine
§ 1/2 glass of whole milk*
§ 2 tbsp of crème fraiche*
§ 1 handful of hay (optional, otherwise, simply use parchment paper))
§ 2 tbsp of truffle oil (I used truffle oil here as a reminder of the truffles normally used in the tournedos Rossini - alternatively, you can use olive oil or butter)
* or 1 glass of heavy cream instead of the whole milk and crème fraiche.
1. The celeriac
§ Rinse and brush the celeriac and, if needed, cut is base so that it can stand vertically
§ In an oven dish, place a double aluminum foil, cover with hay as necessary, make a “nest” in the hay and place the celeriac in it
§ Spread the truffle oil on the celeriac
§ Fold the aluminum so that it entirely wraps the celeriac, using an additional foil if need be
§ Place it in a 375F preheated oven and bake for 2 hours
§ After 2 hours, take out the celeriac. Normally, it will be cooked but still firm (if you want it softer, you need to cook it 1 hour longer)
§ Cut the celeriac in 4 quarters and remove the outside parts
§ Make some regular parallelepiped piece and cut them in regular 1cm dices, the dices and the trims representing a similar volume
§ Mix the trims with the milk, season, add the crème fraiche and keep warm in a bain-marie
§ 5 minutes before serving, fry the celeriac dices with the baby potatoes (see below) in the foie gras fat
2. The sauce
§ While the celeriac is roasting in the oven, salt the bistro fillet on each side, wrap it in a cling film with a few celeriac greens and keep it in the fridge for at least ½ hour to give it a nice round shape
§ Cook the foie gras trims (for the sauce) in a pan on medium for around 5 minutes till they render their fat. Keep the pan with the foie gras fat
§ In a small sauce pan, cook gently the foie gras in the red wine, with a few celeriac green and S&P, till the wine reduces by about 50%
§ Remove the greens and mix the foie gras trims with wine to obtain a thick sauce. Here you can strain the sauce or not. I didn’t, to keep all the foie gras flavors
3. The tournedos
§ Take the bistro fillet out of the fridge, unwrap the film, and sear it as it is in a hot pan with a tiny bit of neutral oil on each side for around 1 minute, namely, considering that this round shape has 4 sides, a total of 4 minutes.
§ Take the pan out of the burner and baste generously the fillet
§ Let rest for 10 minutes on a grid
§ Cut it in 4 or 6 tournedos depending on its size and your preferences. Personally, I like my tournedos thick, i.e. borderline chateaubriands
§ While the tournedos is resting, sear rapidly on each side, on maximum heat, the frozen/cold foie gras slices for the topping, around 2 minutes on the first side and 1minute on the other one. This, plus the fact that the foie gras is frozen or very cold, will avoid that it renders too much fat. But keep this fat though.
4. The sides and plating
§ Roast the baby potatoes for around 30 minutes in the first foie gras fat (sauce)
§ Roast the celeriac dices and toast the bread circles in the second foie gras fat (topping)
§ Made chips with the purple potatoes
§ Place the tournedos on the toasts, and the foie gras slices on the tournedos
§ Spread the celeriac purée on the plate, and dispose the celeriac dices, the baby potatoes and the purple potato chips on the purée,
§ Pour the foie gras sauce on the tournedos and in the plate
§ Savor with a good Bordeaux wine (my choice was a Pomerol Prieurs de la Commanderie 2000)