Wine bar owner-chef William Abitbol substitutes nutty celery root for potato in his riff on a classic creamy gratin. He serves it with his tenderloin steaks topped with a rich pan sauce.
One 2-pound celery root—peeled, quartered and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Four 6-ounce trimmed beef tenderloin steaks, about 2 inches thick
1/2 cup veal demiglace (see Note)
4 rosemary sprigs, for garnish
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread one-fourth of the celery root slices in a shallow 1-quart gratin dish. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Repeat with the remaining celery root slices to create 4 layers; season between each layer. Pour the cream over the celery root and dot with the 1 tablespoon of butter pieces. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until browned on top and the celery root is tender when pierced with a knife. Let stand for 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
In a large ovenproof skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until a brown crust forms on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the steaks, transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for about 12 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to plates.
Add the veal demiglace to the skillet and bring to a boil. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over and around the steaks. Garnish each steak with a sprig of rosemary and serve hot with the celery root gratin.
Veal demiglace is made from reduced stock. D'Artagnan makes an excellent demiglace that is available at many specialty food shops and from dartagnan.com and amazon.com.
These juicy steaks need an equally juicy red as a partner, albeit one with firm tannins to help cut the richness of the beef. France's Bordeaux region is a good source for wines like this, especially the up-and-coming Côtes de Castillon appellation.
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