Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Whisk Wednesdays—Steak Mirabeau (Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Anchovy Butter)

Steak Mirabeau (Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Anchovy Butter)Sharp, briny, stinky. That’s anchovies and olives for me. I’ve tried to like these foods, but I still avoid them. This week, the curriculum that I’m following called for a discussion of compound butters, and the only recipe in Le Cordon Bleu at Home that contained a compound butter was Steak Mirabeau. The steak part was great, but the anchovy butter…not so good. So, I decided to make a bunch of other compound butters to have on hand and compare.

“…and one slice with anchovies.”
A Crankshaft Collection by
Chuck Ayers , Tom Batiuk
Compound Butters
Compound butter is a fancy name for flavored butter. They’re a quick and easy way to add a burst of flavor to meat or vegetables. Michael Ruhlman has a great description in his book Elements of Cooking and on his blog {and a beautiful picture by his wife Donna}.

There are some standard compound butters, but the possibilities for flavoring butter are endless. Some famous compound butters are garlic butter, Maître d’Hôtel butter, and Escargot butter. 101 Cookbooks has some interesting ideas for flavor combinations. For this Mirabeau steak, the recipe called for anchovy butter. {Mirabeau means the dish has anchovies and olives.}

Compound butters don’t have to be just savory. You can also make sweet compound butters such as Honey butter or Orange butter, which contains orange zest, orange liqueur, orange juice, and icing sugar.

When making compound butter, don’t melt the butter in the microwave. You want room temperature butter, not melted butter. After adding the flavorings, you can roll it in wax paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator to set. You can store it in the freezer for up to one month and slice off what you need.

Tips: If the compound butter is frozen, you can grate it onto the meat or vegetables. Another tip from Amy Snider was to tie up compound butter in cheesecloth and rub it over corn on the cob.

Click to enlarge image
Compound ButtersWatch a Pro
Although simple to make, I found a video showing how to make compound butter.

Café de Paris Butter
One famous compound butter is called Café de Paris butter. It consists of about 20 different ingredients all whipped into the butter, including herbs, spices, mustard, marjoram, dill, rosemary, tarragon, paprika, capers, chives, curry powder, parsley, shallots, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovies. According to this article, in 1941, Freddy Dumont created this compound butter at the Restaurant Café de Paris in Geneva. It became such a hit that it became difficult to get a reservation. It is described as “artery-clogging, chin-glisteningly good.”

Café de Paris in GenevaSides
The best parts of this recipe were the side dishes, especially the fried onions. After slicing the onions into ¼-inch rings, I sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and chopped parsley. Then, I soaked them in milk for 20 minutes. After drying them with a paper towel and dredging them with flour, I deep fried them in 360˚F oil until they were brown and crispy.

The other side dish was baked tomatoes. I just pierced the tops with an “x”, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and added a dollop of butter. Then, I baked them in a 400˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. They taste sweet and gooey after baking.

If you like anchovies and olives, you can wrap an anchovy around a pitted olive for a touch of elegance as a garnish. A fistful of watercress adds some color, crunch, and spice to the plate as well.

Steak Mirabeau mise en placeYou can find the recipe for Steak Mirabeau (Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Anchovy Butter) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with this week's recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Tasting Notes
“Hold the anchovies” {and olives}!
As you can tell, I wasn’t fond of this steak à la Mirabeau! However, I did enjoy the Tarragon and the Escargot compound butters on my tenderloin. And the fried onions were easy and delicious and one side dish I will have to make when there are more mouths to feed since they are not good for the diet at all! I’m looking forward to trying my sweet compound butters on muffins or pancakes and making that artery-clogging Café de Paris butter soon!

With that, I'll leave you with an award-winning haiku...
first date–
the little pile
of anchovies

—Roberta Beary,
from The Unworn Necklace (Snapshots Press, 2007);
Frogpond (Winter 2007), 1st Place,
Haiku Society of America’s 2006 Gerald Brady Senryu Contest
(found here)
Next Week (September 3)
• Brochet au beurre blanc (Whole Poached Pike with White Butter Sauce) page 307-308 {discussion of Beurre blanc (Emulsified butter with shallots) page 192}

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $669.38 + $30.82 (2 steaks) $11.42 (Mirabeau, onions, tomatoes) = $711.62

Butter used so far: 7 pounds, 11 tablespoons {I didn't add all the pounds of butter I used in making all the different compound butters this week since only a 1/4 of a pound was required for the recipe. Just thought you'd like to know if you're playing along and counting your cholesterol points!}


Anonymous said...

Ah, my husband feels the exact same way about anchovies and olives. They're the only two foods he really doesn't like. I, for one, love them both!

Michelle said...

Awwwwww...Shari! We love the stinky anchovies and the stinky olives.

Fabulous dinner!

NKP said...

Beautiful plating, sorry you don't like the anchovies and olives - I will eat yours for you.
I love compound butters and make them all the time, they are so handy. You have given me some good ideas for new ones...port! who'da thunkit?
Yummy dinner, looking forward to next week!

Leslie said...

Butter..compounder or not..I could live on butter alone!!!!
I am not much an Anchovy person. Rachel Ray swears on TV that it doesnt taste fishy..that they just give the dish a salty flavor! Hmmmm.I stick with leaving them out all together!

PheMom said...

I love making compound butters and just don't do it enough. I'll bet a gorgonzola walnut butter would be fantastic with that tenderloin! It looks really good - I applaud you for even trying the anchovy version - I don't think I could have done it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you didn't love it. I loved the layout of all the butters. Very, very cool.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the informative piece on compound butters! I'm touchy about anchovies...they can be there, but I need to be in control of how much we interact! Your posts are so fabulous! Off to make some escargot butter...surely it's good for so many other things as well! LOL!

Unknown said...

Hi Shari. I'd like to pin the compound butters image, but want to make sure to credit the original. Is this your image, or is there another source? Thanks!

SilvijaKB said...

Wonderful combinations, to be sure! I've actually discovered a little secret, though - Costco sells half gallons of organic heavy whipping cream at a very reasonable price. I pour about a cup of room temp cream into a quart size jar, put the lid on, shake until I get butter. Pour off the whey, rinse with cold water, THEN add the herbs and other great things. Fresh, home made butter - easy and SO delicious!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Hi Chele - the compound butter photo is mine. You can pin it if you like. Thanks for asking! ~Shari