As a rookie in the kitchen, I still feel a sense of victory when I make something edible, so you can imagine how much my pride swells when I make something delicious. This recipe, from Food & Wine’s March 2016 issue, is everything I could want for weeknight cooking: decadence and ease. Minute steaks are usually loaded with gristle, a far cry from the tender filet or silky ribeye we have in mind when fantasizing about steak dinner, but I was intrigued by this recipe, which called for center-cut beef tenderloin, cut crosswise into thin slices.
The butcher at Whole Foods was more than a little perplexed by my request, but we worked it out, and I came home with a pound of sliced beef tenderloin that looked so good as I was almost afraid to ruin it (admittedly, it’s not so cheap either). A successful first stint with a Le Creuset grill pan yielded what my father called the best thin steaks he had ever had.
Paired with white rice and the watercress, hearts of palm and avocado salad, the meal was reminiscent of a much-loved local Argentinean restaurant which sadly closed after a fire. The recipe calls for a “minerally, light red” wine accompaniment, but I prefer the idea of a Patagonian pinot noir or Malbec in their honor.
1 pound center-cut beef tenderloin, cut crosswise into 4 slices and lightly pounded 1/8 inch thick (NOTE: I couldn’t get the slices that thin, and settled more for ¼ inch)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces watercress, thick stems discarded (6 cups)
One 15-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias (NOTE: I bought a can of pre-sliced hearts of palm at Whole Foods)
1 Haas avocado, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup snipped chives
1. Heat a large grill pan for 10 minutes. Brush the steaks with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until lightly charred, 45 seconds. Flip and grill until medium rare, 30 seconds. Transfer to plates. (NOTE: probably because my slices were thicker, I ended up doing close to 2 minutes on each side)
2. In a large bowl, whisk the 2 tablespoons of oil with the lemon juice, shallot and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Add the watercress, hearts of palm and avocado, season with salt and pepper and toss. Mound the salad beside the steaks, top with the chives and serve with lemon wedges.