Monday, December 29, 2014

Tenderloin Steak with Pomegranate Gastrique

     Gastrique is easy to make!  
     A gastrique can be made slightly sweet by cooking sugar to a hard crack stage.  A neutral savory gastrique requires sugar to be cooked to the amber stage or beyond.  A gastrique should never be sweet like a syrup.
     When the sugar reaches the desired stage caramel stage, the fruit is added.  The sugar seizes the fruit and the sugar solidifies like candy.  Do not stir at this point, or the candied mass will stick to the spoon.  Allow the sugar to pull all the flavor and color out of the fruit, before adding the liquids.  This method produces the most intense flavored gastrique.

     The strong fruit flavor of a gastrique becomes boldly pronounced by the time the recipe is completed.  How a gastrique affects taste bud sensors on the palate is difficult to explain in laymen's terms.  It is much better to learn from the experience of tasting a gastrique.  After making a few different kinds of gastrique, a chef can develop the ability to tailor a gastrique recipe to create new refined taste sensations.
     Gastrique refinement and development is good practice for any chef.  A gastrique is a worthwhile creation for home cooks to perfect.  A good gastrique can be very complex tasting and have a very bold flavor at the same time.  A well tuned gastrique can impress even the most sophisticated guest!

     Tenderloin Steak, Tornados Steak Or Filet Mignon?
     A real butcher or chef knows the difference.  Many grocery store butchers sell any piece of tenderloin that is large enough to be a steak as filet mignon.  This is a deceptive marketing practice.
     French and classic trained butchers divide a whole tenderloin into the tips, medallions, chateaubriand and tornados sections.  Only the perfectly round thick middle section of the tenderloin can be sold as filet mignon steaks.  This means that filet mignon steaks can only be cut from the chateaubriand section and part of the round section of the tornados end.
     The tips section and medallion sections are too skinny for cutting filet mignon steaks.  The far end of the tornados section divides into two muscle groups that are not perfectly round.  So, the far end of the tornados cannot be cut into filet mignon steaks.

     The tenderloin sections that do not qualify for filet mignon steak (tips, medallions and tornados end piece), always sell for a lower price than the thick round middle section of the tenderloin.  Great recipes can be made with these sections of the tenderloin.

     The steak in the photos above was purchased as a Filet Mignon Steak at a grocery store in Chicago.  Obviously, it is not a perfectly round center cut.  The steak was cut from the far end of the tornados section.  Even though the butcher intentionally mislabeled the steak, the price was about $2 less per pound than a real filet mignon steak, so no money was swindled out of my pocket.
     Naming today's steak recipe as being "Filet Mignon" would mislead quality oriented viewers of this website.  Since there is no such thing as a "Tornados Steak" the only name that really can be applied is "Tenderloin Steak."  The tornados end steak is as tender as a filet migno. "Tenderloin Steak with Pomegranate Gastrique" still sounds like a mighty appealing café style entrée that will please guests!

     Pomegranate Gastrique:
     This gastrique recipe yields about 1/3 cup!
     Some of my gastriques are made by cooking the molten sugar only to the hard crack to yellow amber stage.  The sugar is cooked to a medium dark amber color for today's gastrique recipe.  
     It is important to observe the sugar as it changes color from clear, to very pale yellow, then to a light yellow brown amber color.  This happens quickly!  A few seconds later, the sugar changes from a light amber color to a darker color.  This is the time to add the fruit!
     Take caution!  Hot molten sugar will cause severe burns.  Wear protective clothing!
     Do not stir a gastrique, till shortly after the liquid flavorings are added or the sugar will stick to the utensil like rock candy.
     Step 1:   Separate 1 cup of fresh pomegranate fruit from the rind and pith.  Set the clean pomegranate fruit aside. 
     Step 2:  Boil 1/2 cup of water over medium high heat in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     When the sugar begins to turn a light amber color, stay close to the pan and watch for the sugar to turn a dark amber color.  (Dark amber is a yellow brown color.)
     When the sugar turns a dark amber color, immediately add the pomegranate fruit.
     Allow the caramelized sugar to coat the fruit for about 1 minute.
     *The sugar will stop caramelizing when you add the fruit.  The hot molten sugar will seize the fruit and pull all of the flavor and color out of the fruit.  
     Step 3:   Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of pomegranate vinegar.
     Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 2 laurel leaves.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped shallot.
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce the gastrique, till becomes a thin glacé syrup consistency.  The glaçé should be thick enough to barely coat the back of a spoon.  (Keep in mind that when a gastrique cools, it may become a little bit thicker consistency.)
     Step 5:  Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a container and set aside.
     A gastrique can be refrigerated for up to six months.  
     Tenderloin Steak: 
     Season a 6 ounce petit tenderloin steak (or a petite filet mignon steak) with coarse ground black pepper and sea salt.
     Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add the tenderloin steak.
     Sear both sides of the steak.  Flip the lean tenderloin steak occasionally, so it cooks evenly.  Cook the steak to the preferred finish temperature.  (The steak in the photos was medium rare.)
     Place the steak on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan and let it rest for about 1 minute.

     Tenderloin Steak with Pomegranate Gastrique:
     Place the tenderloin steak on a plate.
     Spoon a little bit of the gastrique on the plate around the steak.
     Cascade a few pieces of pomegranate fruit over the steak and onto the plate.
     Serve with a vegetable and starch of your choice.
     * The tenderloin steak in the photos was served with rice that was flavored with caramelized onion and thyme.  Fanned steamed, feathered snow peas were also placed on the plate.  This is a nice uncomplicated café style presentation.  
     Pomegranate gastrique tastes nice with steak! 

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