Steak with Red Wine Reduction and Fettuccine Alfredo
One of Christey's favorite meals is a red-wine reduction steak with a side of mac-n-cheese, served at Jiko restaurant at the African Lodge in Disney. We were just there last month, but Christey had a craving again, so I took a spin at it with a bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin steak with a shallot red wine reduction, and a side of fettuccine tossed in homemade Alfredo.
The steaks are tenderloin, the center portion (what is usually called filet mignon with various degrees of accuracy) with a bit of the side tenderloin steak. The whole tenderloin is great, so I don't mind the side steak other than it's a little trickier to get that bit of silverskin out on the filet.
I wrapped the steaks with bacon. There's some thought that the tenderloin, less marbled than other cuts of beef, can benefit from the extra fat while cooking. Personally, I just think bacon and steak go really well together, especially with a less-beefy cut like tenderloin.
The plan is to reduce a red wine and stock mixture for sauce, so I start with that, as it's going to take longer than the steak to cook. I chop a shallot, then measure about 1/3rd to 1/2 cup of veal stock (or low-sodium beef stock) into a measuring cup and top off with red wine (I used a cab-sav) up to one cup. All of this is added to a saucepan with a sprig or two of thyme, then aggressively simmered (or gently boiled) down to less than 1/4 cup.
My oven will go to 525F, so I preheated it to that. Many ovens will go no higher than 500, which is okay, it just might take a couple minutes longer. I like high heat for steaks, especially when I'm planning to cook them on a cast iron skillet. Meanwhile, I set a highly salted* pot of water to boil, then reduced the heat to a gentle simmer. The fettuccine will cook for just about the same amount of time the steak is in the oven, so I want a pot of water that's ready for the pasta. Just before the steak goes in the oven, I turn up the heat on the water and it's boiling when I'm ready for it.
* There are those who say that pasta should be cooked in water as salty as the Mediterranean Sea. I'm not quite there in terms of cooking in virtual seawater, but I do like a salty water for my pasta, and I think the oil/butter in the water concept is a myth. Since this pasta is going from water to a buttery sauce directly, I have no oil or butter in my pasta water.
I heated a cast iron skillet over high-medium-high (maybe an 8 on 1-10) and aggressively salted the steaks with kosher salt, adding a bit of cracked black pepper.
Once the cast iron was hot, I added a couple teaspoons of olive oil and placed the presentation side of the steaks down in the pan. Once down, I salted and peppered the other side in complement to the first.
When the first side was nicely seared, I flipped the steaks and tossed them, pan and all, into the oven.
The steaks were about an inch and a half in thickness, so at that heat, I'm guessing about 12-14 minutes to medium-rare/medium. Which is just the right time to boil fettuccine and whip up an Alfredo. I started with a pan heated over medium heat, with a couple tablespoons of butter and about 2/3 cup of heavy cream. I added the fettuccine to the water and simmered the cream/butter mixture to reduce by at least half, and maybe a bit more.
Meanwhile, I shred some parmesan reggiano -- about 1/3 cup.
By now, the red wine and stock have reduced nicely, so I take it off the heat.
When the steaks are almost done (I prod them to test doneness, but when I think I'm sure, I also cut into one to test) I pull them out. They will cook another few degrees while sitting, so I pull them out a bit more red than I was shooting for.
While the steaks rest, I test the pasta, strain it, then add it directly into the cream/butter mixture. I add the parmesan, mix it up, then add maybe 1/4 cup of the pasta water, which is salty and filled with the flour that boiled off the pasta -- it makes a great thickener for the Alfredo.
I put the red wine sauce back on medium heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of butter and stir it into the sauce until melted. I season the sauce to taste, and squeeze half a lemon into the red wine sauce, and half a lemon into the Alfredo.
I strain the red wine sauce to take out the shallots and thyme, and spoon the sauce over the steak, where it mixes with the steaks own juices (remove the bacon-toothpicks at this time). The fettuccine is on the side, where the creamy sauce mixes with the red wine sauce and causes all sorts of wonderful reactions.
Deconstruction: This was pretty close to Jiko's sauce. The steak was a different cut, and Alfredo is not the same as a mac-n-cheese béchamel, but it was definitely my own take on the meal. The steak and bacon were well complimented with the buttery and earthy red wine sauce, and the creamy Alfredo was about 7000 light-years better than a standard leathery baked potato side. In all truth, I made this dish last Wednesday, and it was so good we actually craved it enough that I made it again last night (Sunday, during the Super Bowl). It's also really tough to decide what we craved more -- the buttery, tangy wine sauce, or the creamy Alfredo.