Tournedos Père Nöel ☆

This recipe is dated December 26, 2017, the day after Christmas. It recalls that the final third of our 2017 had not been very kind to us. Camilla had been hospitalized in September and her subsequent rehab lasted into 2018. Here at Christmas time, we had both contracted a flu-like malady that, unhappily, necessitated we miss the family Christmas party and grand-niece Kristin’s wedding shower. But, it further recorded that we were now beginning to feel that we were over the hump in our recovery.

Looking for cheer and probing through the cupboard for cans about to exceed their expiration date, I found a can of paté de fois gras. In the freezer, I found two small filets mignons. In my refrigerator, I found shiitake mushrooms. “Aha! This is just what we need!”

Tournedos Rossini is a classic, veritable jewel of French gastronomy that makes for a perfect celebration of the Christmas season. This famous namesake dish is a tribute to the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, creator of several famous operas, including the Barber of Seville and William Tell. It consists of a beef filet mignon and slice of fois gras on toast in a Madeira sauce that provides a rich, refined, and memorable culinary experience—a real Christmas present!

The version of this classic made that evening and presented here does not use fois gras, but the paté de fois gras, and no truffles, but shiitake mushrooms. For this reason, I have portrayed my dish as a Christmas gift of the French Santa Claus. It was a truly remarkable experience!

  • 2 oz of canned paté de fois gras
  • 2 tbsp (real!) unsalted butter
  • 2 slices reduced carbohydrate bread
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms (no substitute)
  • 2 oz water
  • 1 tsp reduced salt beef base
  • 2 oz dry red wine
  • 2 oz Madeira wine
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tournedos of beef filet mignon

Put a 4½ oz can of paté de fois gras in the refrigerator a few hours before preparation begins. To start, open the can of paté fois gras and carefully remove the contents. Equally as carefully and using a very thin knife, slice two ½” slabs crosswise. Put these aside in a warm place.

Use a large cookie cutter or the empty paté can to cut the bread into rounds, no crust, please. Melt the butter in a flat skillet and toast each of the bread slices in the butter until brown. Remove the skillet from the heat and put aside.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and slice thinly. In another small skillet, sauté the scallions and garlic until they are just turning brown. Add the mushrooms, mix well with the onions and garlic, and cook a few more minutes until any moisture from the mushrooms disappears.

Add the water, beef base, and red wine to the pan, raise the heat, and cook until the liquid is mostly gone. Dissolve the cornstarch in the Madeira and add this to the pan. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens; then simmer for another 2 minutes, still stirring, until the starchy taste subsides. Turn off the heat.

Melt the final portion of butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet until almost smoking. Add the tournedos and sear on all sides. Cook each one to the temperatures desired and turn off the heat.

Assemble the ingredients on two plates: first the toast, top this with the tournedos, add the paté slabs, and, finally, the Madeira sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.