Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beef Tenderloin, Chickpeas, Matsutake Mushroom Ragout, Mojo Jelly

Remember to get in our Quickies Noodle Challenge.  Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create a fun, sexy, inventive noodle dish.  The deadline for entry is midnight December 14, 2010.

The grand prize is a fantastic cookbook Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night written by my good friend the super talented Denise Fletcher.

Chickpeas are one of my absolute favorites. They are low in fat and most of it is polyunsaturated. Chickpeas are also high in dietary fiber and for people who are diabetic, like my little brother, a great healthy source of carbohydrates. Here they form the base of this course, cooked with onions, shallots, leeks, and red chilies.

To compliment and enhance the chickpeas, the next flavor layer is a matsutake mushroom ragout. Luckily, I received some fresh, wild, hand-foraged Matsutake Mushrooms from Marx Foods. Take this recipe and run with it, this matsutake ragout goes well with a plethora of dishes.

I’d like to offer a counterintuitive method for cooking beef tenderloin. Normally, we sear the exterior of the beef at a very high temperature and then finish cooking it in the oven at a lower temperature. Well, when we cook meat we lose “juices” or moisture. There is no getting around that. The key becomes can we minimize moisture loss? The theory behind this cooking method is to first cook the meat in a low oven for 40 minutes in order to gelatinize the juices in the meat. Then, sear it on a hot pan to caramelize the exterior and achieve the crusty exterior we love on a good steak. Now, I am no scientist, but I can report that the meat was succulent and moist.

For all my veggie loving friends I include a vegetarian version of this dish. Here, eggplant confit takes the place of the animal protein. Confit, pronounced “con-fee”, is a method of slow and low cooking submerged in fat. Traditional confit are made with rendered duck, pork, goose, or chicken fat. Our veggie version is cooked in liquid gold, high quality olive oil from Spain.

A big hug and thank you to my lovely and talented friend Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron.  On her recent European adventure, she brought me back some Piment d'Espelette. This is my favorite pepper. Grown in the Basque region of France, it has become the cornerstone pepper in Basque cooking. It packs a beautiful pepper flavor without ever burning the tongue.

Beef Tenderloin, Chickpeas, Matsutake Mushroom Ragout, Mojo Jelly

Eggplant Confit, Chickpeas, Matustake Mushroom Ragout, Mojo Jelly

For the Chickpeas:
15 oz canned chickpeas – rinsed and drained
1 red onion – sliced thin on a mandoline
1 leek (white & light green parts only) – sliced thin on a mandoline
1 shallot – minced
½ red chili – seeded & minced
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
Sea salt & white pepper
Piment d’Espelette
Safflower oil
Unsalted butter

In a sauté pan, heat the safflower oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs butter. When the butter melts and foams, add the onions and cook for 8 minutes, get some good color on them. Add the shallot, leek, and red chili cook for 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and mix well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, season with salt, piment d’espelette, and white pepper.

For the Matsutake Mushroom Ragout:
1/3 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp matsutake mushrooms - finely minced
Champagne vinegar
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp white truffle oil
sea salt & white pepper

In a small saucepan, combine the stock, matsutake mushroom, and 2 drops vinegar.  Simmer for 4 minutes.  You want the consistency of a sauce.  Swirl in the butter and truffle oil.

For the Eggplant Confit:
1 large eggplant
Sea salt
Spanish olive oil
1 shallot - small chop
2 tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp cane sugar
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs savory

Cut the eggplant into 11/2 inch thick rounds.  Season both sides of the rounds with sea salt.  Lay the rounds on a wire rack to rest before cooking.

In a saucepan, add the olive oil, shallot, coriander seeds, sugar, bay leaf, and savory.  Heat over medium-low heat to 180 F.  Add the eggplant rounds.  Cook on one side for 12 minutes.  Turn the eggplant.  Cook on second side for 12 minutes.  Try to maintain temperature between 180 and 165 F.  Remove the eggplant to wire rack to drain excess oil.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add the eggplant rounds and sear on one side for 1 minute.  The goal is too get a crust on the outside.  It is good to have contrasting textures within the eggplant, more interesting for the diner.

For the Beef Tenderloin:
Beef tenderloin roast
Canola oil
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Piment d’Espelette
Blended oil
Fleur de Sel

Preheat oven to 200 F.  Coat the beef tenderloin with the canola oil.  Season with piment d'espelette, sea salt, and black pepper.  Cook beef in the oven for 40 minutes.

When the meat is 10 minutes out, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add some blended oil to the skillet.  Remove the steak from the oven.  Sear the beef tenderloin on all sides to caramelize the exterior.  Remove to a wire rack to rest for 20 minutes.

Cut into 1 1/2 inch thick steaks.  Season with fleur de sel.

For the Mojo Jelly: 
1 tbs water
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1/3 cup mojo
2 tbs orange juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbs cane sugar

Add the water to a small ramekin and sprinkle with gelatin.  Lit it sit for 2 minutes.  Put the ramekin in the microwave and cook for 20 seconds or until it starts to bubble.  Be careful it will boil quickly.

In a bowl, combine the mojo, orange juice, sugar and salt.  Add the melted gelatin, stir to combine.  Cover and fridge until set.

Note: The Mojo Jelly melts quickly.  Bring it to the table and serve last minute.  Use it as you would a finishing butter.  It is so packed with flavor.

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!


  1. Sorry for not having been around here much recently - I've missed your posts. Every time I come back, there's always something delicious and original served up beautifully which is great. Like you I'm a huge fan of chickpeas and both your dishes look amazing, especially the one with aubergine, my favourite vegetable. Have a great weekend!

  2. Beautiful dish as always, Lazaro! I've missed a bunch of your posts while we were moving, so I'm going to have to catch up and get my foodie fix. Nice nutrition info at the beginning - chickpeas really are a nutrient powerhouse. I'm going to have to try your counterintuitive method for tenderloin, because I've definitely stuck to the traditional way until now!

    I'm sure it won't surprise you that Peter has an entire liter of rendered duck fat in our fridge for whenever he gets the hankering to make duck confit. You know, just "in case".

  3. They both look wonderful! I would be happy with either one that's for sure. I have been using a lot of chickpeas lately, and this looks so special for the little chickpeas!

  4. I'm playing catch up here. My RSS reader (my former way of knowing when folks posted) went capoot, and I was under the delusion that food enthusiasts took time off for Thanksgiving. Now, this is hardly a hardship, just the opposite in fact, I have a slew of wonderful posts from you to catch up on.

    You've started me off with another amazing winner and featuring one of my favorite mushrooms, Matsutake. Thank you!

  5. Wow what presentation, this is fit for a king!

  6. Ok, you got me.. what is mojo??? I looked it up and found sauce called that but... is it a brand name. The dish looks great... I am really becoming a slow cooking fan. I think it does keep the juices in. Lovely recipe... I think the combination is lovely with steak and eggplant.... and yes, that MOJO!!!

  7. What a wonderful treat from T~!
    And how sweet you are to include a vegetarian version. Both look outstanding, and I am crazy about your Mojo Jelly...Beautiful :)

  8. What lovely chickpea dishes! I love chickpeas. I often plain boil with a little salt and snack on them. I like it in curry too.

  9. OMG Lazaro! I love both of these dishes! I don't eat meat much but when I do crave for steak, tenderloin is my favorite cut. Such a wonderful idea to substitute eggplant for a vegetarian dish (another one of my favorites). I liked what you said about searing the eggplant for different textures, definitely makes a huge difference! I had never thought of pairing chickpeas with tenderloin before, what a great combo. I also love the colour on your tenderloin, it's cooked perfectly. I have to confess something though, I've never heard of mojo jelly until now. As Mary always says, "keep learning, keep smiling". Delicious dishes, Lazaro.

    Tanantha is such a sweetheart! Now you have me intrigued about that pepper. Sounds like some magical stuff.

  10. This is amazing dish, I really like the chickpeas and the eggplant. Delicious !

  11. What a layer of flavors. Beautiful. I can already think of a perfect pairing of win with this dish. Awesome.

  12. Hi Lazaro,
    You've come up with a couple of intriguing dishes here, they both look delicious. I've never heard of Mojo sauce and I'm curious why you only call for 2 teaspoons of the Matsutake mushrooms in your ragout, do they have a strong flavor? I've never tried them. I love chickpeas and I think I would like them with eggplant. I also loved seeing your sunshine, lucky guy:)

  13. This is beautiful dish and I actually think I would love both version of it. I like your method for cooking the tenderloin...I bet it worked like a charm! And I'm totally with you on the chickpeas -- they are one of my favorite beans!

  14. I just wrote a post with chickpeas too! They are one of my favorites--I think that they are so addictive. I love this dish--both meat and vegetarian versions. Between that pepper and the mushrooms, you've got a base of fantastic ingredients.

  15. Although I've never tried it, I think your method for cooking the tenderloin sounds great! I believe a lot of times when people sous vide, they follow the same mentality, cook it low and slow, then sear it for that added texture :) Also love the vegetarian version. Although I'm a happy meat eater, I do love eggplant!

  16. Ok- I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who doesn't know what Mojo is. Would you mind explaining? I do love your preparation of chickpeas. They're a GF staple, but I never think to prepare them just as a chickpea- I'm always mashing them and whatnot... And, I agree with some of the others, that I want to try this both ways- Eggplant is a favorite at our house and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it.. I'll put the pepper on my list of things to look for when we cross the pond! Thanks for a fun post!

  17. Both look delicious. I love chick peas and look forward to trying this part of the recipe. I got a few bottles of the Piment d'Espelette last summer in Paris. It was not so easy to find, and 10 Europs for 40 grams... I thought that was high until I came home and found it in Calgary for 50 dollars for 40 grams. YIKES. I also love it, but find I can use 40 grams in a short while.
    I must be more careful with it. What do you use it for?

  18. I just read Marisa's post about chickpeas too. They ain't my fav but after seeing a few posts about these chicks i will have to give them another chance to redeem haha. You realy got a good use of the pepper. Luv it! I get an idea of using it. Thanks for the tips of cooking tenderloin. I did exactly like what you said (the one the loose juices). Now, I know a proper way to cook this bad boy. I love both versions and they are hard to pick so I probably get both!

    Yeah it wasnt easy to find but im glad i found it! I bought a few more herbs at that market too. Thanks for the shout out, my friend!

  19. love how you used garbanzos in these dishes. it's such a classic bean for us...and i can only imagine how well it pairs with the eggplant confit.. will try it out and let you know.. i'm excited about it.

  20. They look great!!! I love beef tenderloin, chick peas, eggplant and mushrooms so these are perfect!

  21. You got me at the Mojo Jelly.

  22. I am getting used to your elegant creations, worthy of a five-star establishment/I would not resist one second to that course you are serving with the tenderloin and the chick peas. .

  23. Wow, that tenderloin is beautiful, I can just imagine how it tastes. The eggplant looks beautiful, too!

  24. Laz, I love chickpeas too! They add a lot of satiety to many veggie dishes (which is important for my meat lovin' husband!) I am very intrigued by your alternative method to cooking the tenderloin. I would be frightened to experiment as it's expensive and I'd hate to screw it up, but not you! Thanks for being so adventurous.

    I have to have a little chuckle over your mojo gelatin. You gotta throw that Cubano touch in when you can! Loverly, Laz!

  25. Thank you for your counterintuitive method for cooking beef tenderloin - I'm definitely using this method next time. I'm crazy about chickpeas too and your dish shows the humble chickpea in an elegant way.

  26. denise @ quickies on the dinner tableDecember 15, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Hey Laz! Gimme mo mo mo of that MOJOJO!! Thanks to you I am no longer a stranger to Mojo but to morph it into an intensely flavoured accent jelly is sheer genius!

    Love both versions - the beef looks devilishly delicous but I could easily love the eggplant version just as much!

    Like Patty, I'm also curious about why you only used 2 tsp of the mushrooms.....


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