A Delicious Christmas Dinner for Four…or More

After posting recipes for Camembert Stuffed with Dates, Apricots, and Walnuts and for Spiced Orange Pecans (both perfect for small holiday gatherings) last week on this blog, I’ve decided on the menu for our scaled down Christmas dinner. The pièce de résistance will be sautéed beef tenderloin steaks with a shallot, bacon, and port sauce accompanied by creamy Stilton flans. My spouse is ecstatic since he adores tenderloin steaks and counts blue cheeses as his favorites.

It’s the tantalizing sauce, layered with multiple flavors, that makes the steaks so distinctive. Sweet, caramelized roasted shallots and salty bits of bacon are added to a simple reduction of port and stock to form a quick pan sauce. The shallots can be roasted and the stock and port reduced a day ahead. At serving time you’ll need to season the meat with a flavorful herb mélange, then quickly fry bacon, and sauté the steaks in some of the drippings. The stock mixture is added to the skillet along with the shallots and bacon to form the delectable sauce. This recipe serves four, but could be increased by half to accommodate six.

For the Stilton flans, a savory custard that includes eggs, cream cheese, and crème fraiche plus a generous amount of Stilton, or another robust blue cheese, is poured into ramekins, baked, and then unmolded. The flans can be prepared a day ahead and reheated at serving time. A recipe makes six portions, but extras are delicious paired with a salad for lunch or a light supper.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all. May 2021 bring good health, safe travels, and comforting food to everyone.

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Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Roasted Shallots, Port, and Bacon and Stilton Flans

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Roasted Shallots, Port, and Bacon
6 ounces (about 6) large shallots, halved lengthwise, peeled
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium beef or chicken stock plus up to 1 cup extra if needed
6 tablespoons tawny port (See market note) 
3/4 teaspoon tomato paste
4 beef tenderloin steaks, 6 to 7 ounces each and about 3/4 to 1-inch thick
1 teaspoon dried thyme  
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
2  thick bacon slices (about 3 ounces), cut crosswise into 3/4 -inch slices
4 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
1 teaspoon flour  

1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium large ovenproof skillet or on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shallots with the olive oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the shallots are browned and very tender, stirring occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Remove and set aside.

2. Boil the stock and the port in a medium saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes or less. Watch carefully. Whisk in the tomato paste. (Both shallots and stock mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

3. Pat the beef steaks dry. In a small bowl, mix together thyme, rosemary, and 1/2  teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub on both sides of steaks. In a medium , heavy skillet set over medium heat, sauté bacon until golden, 4 minutes or more. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Increase the heat to medium high and add the steaks to the skillet. Sauté about 3 to 4 minutes per side until browned well and internal temperature is 130 to 135 for medium rare. Transfer the meat to a platter and tent loosely with foil while you finish the sauce.

4. Spoon off and discard the fat drippings in the skillet, and then place the pan over high heat. Add stock/port mixture and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Mix 1 teaspoon of the butter with 1 teaspoon of flour in a small bowl to make a smooth paste. Whisk the paste into the simmering liquids and simmer the sauce until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. If sauce becomes too thick, thin with extra stock. 

5. Whisk remaining butter into the sauce, then stir in the shallots and bacon. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaks napped with the sauce.

Serves 4

Market note: There are 4 categories of port: Vintage, Tawny, Ruby, and White. You don’t need to use the most expensive, which is the Vintage. Tawny, which is the same color as its name, is a good choice; it is ready to drink when bottled or can be aged for many years. If Tawny is not available, you can use a less expensive Ruby port.

Warm Stilton Flans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing baking dishes
1/2 cup (2 3/4 to 3 ounces) Stilton or other good quality blue cheese at room temperature, broken into pieces (See market note.)
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
4 large eggs
1/2 cup crème fraiche
6 rosemary sprigs for garnish

1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter six 1/2 cup ramekins, souffles, or custard cups. Cut 6 rounds of parchment paper to fit bottom of each and butter paper.  

2.With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together 4 tablespoons butter, Stilton or other blue cheese, and cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes or more. In separate bowl whisk together eggs and crème fraiche, until blended, and add to cheese mixture. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about a minute or more. Using a ladle, divide mixture evenly among prepared dishes and place them in a baking pan. Fill pan halfway with hot water.

3. Bake until a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, then carefully wearing gloves or  using  dry kitchen towels, remove the ramekins from pan. (The flans can be baked 1 day ahead; cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove plastic wrap from ramekins and reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.)

4 To serve, loosen edges of flans with small sharp knife, then invert flans and remove and discard paper. Turn flans upside again and garnish the center of each with a rosemary sprig. Serve with Sautéed Steaks with Shallots, Bacon, and Port.

Makes 6 flans

Market note: If you can’t find Stilton cheese (an English blue cheese), you can substitute other blue cheeses.  Gorgonzola from Italy or Fourme d’Ambert and Roquefort from France would work well.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2020

6 thoughts on “A Delicious Christmas Dinner for Four…or More

  1. Perfect menu for celebrating a special holiday in smaller numbers. Can’t wait to try all of it. The Stilton Flans especially. I can already taste the flavors and experience the texture.
    Have a wonderful day with Ronnie. A toast to you both.

  2. The pan sauce for the filets was indeed simply. But it was also a real home run! It’ll be on our menu for New Years, as well.

    • Ellen,
      I’m thrilled that you made the beef fillets and that the sauce was such a big hit! Glad you are doing them again for New Year’s Eve.
      We had them for Christmas, and I’ve almost decided to make them again for Dec 31st! Stay safe and well! Betty

    • Hope you’ll have a chance to try it. We had it for both Christmas and New Year’s Day dinners! Best wishes for a happy and safe new year to you. Betty Rosbottom

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