If there’s one thing I don’t spend a lot of money one, it’s usually any kind of expensive beef or steak; it’s pretty “rare” around our house. (I have a rule; one bad joke per post, so you’re safe, now.) When I do splurge, it’s not your average dinner night, and for a special occasion dinner, this recipe for Medallions of Beef with Red Wine Reduction has become kind of my “signature” dish.
Whether money’s no issue or you’re on a budget, you just can’t go wrong with this classic dish, adapted from a March 1996 issue of Bon Appetit. I’ll give you some hints and helps for shopping, but in the meantime just think about these medallions of beef, cooked perfectly, butter knife tender and highlighted by a red wine reduction. That silky, glossy sauce just about steals the show.
About Medallions of Beef with Red Wine Reduction:
We made this on Valentine’s Day when my son stopped by and wanted help preparing something super special for his girlfriend. He cooked as I directed (mostly) then he packed it up to go. Talk about a romantic dinner! And I was stuck with the dishes…and an extra medallion!
On the menu was the most marvelous Pureed Parsnips, Bacon Brussels Sprouts, and Mushrooms Dianne. Because that wine reduction is so rich, it can absolutely stand up to the stronger flavors of the parsnips and Brussels. If the parsnips aren’t your thing, serve these Best Company Mashed Potatoes (shown in photos with the medallions) instead. Bon Appetit suggested noodles but I could just never go there. And you can’t go wrong my Crusty Bread; you’ve got to plan the night before. Its no-knead, takes a minute to mix, rises overnight, and is baked the next day.
All that cooking time gave us a chance to talk about the recipe, especially the beef. Cooking with my son reminds me that when you’re my age (old) it’s easy to forget that everyone doesn’t start out on the same page. When it comes to buying the beef, it pays to beware and know that there are strategies to bring any cut of beef home on a budget, but you do get what you pay for. If a price seems too good to be true (and that’s hard to judge, too, when you’re a new cook and shopper) it probably is. More on that below.
Making Medallions of Beef with Red Wine Reduction:
This recipe is really no fuss and quick cooking. It starts with the sauce, which takes a bit longer to make than the beef. You’ll saute your onions along with a little thyme in butter, and when softened, add the garlic in and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. When you can smell the garlic, proceed. Sprinkle the flour over everything, stir it around as it cooks for a minute or two and then add the liquid.
The liquid is wine and stock. It doesn’t have to be an expensive wine, but for a reduction like this, you want something that’s not too fruity and definitely something that’s not super tannic. Ask at your store or if there is no help, read the labels. Check out the Wine Enthusiast. Pinot Noir or Merlot is nice, available and can fit any budget.
As far as the beef stock, do use the best beef stock you can get, or even better, a trick I picked up from Cook’s Illustrated, half beef, and half chicken stock. Simmer, stirring now and then until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened to about a cup. In the meantime, cook the beef, and once the beef is removed from its pan, toss this sauce in the pan the beef cooked in so the sauce it picks up all the flavor left behind; you’ll also use any juices that come from the resting beef in the sauce, too.
For the beef, very lightly pound about 3/4″ slices of the beef into medallions (if using steaks, cut into half horizontally, first) to about 3/8ths to 1/2″ thick; be gentle, especially if you’re using a cut from the tenderloin. You’ll “flash” cook it, searing it very quickly in a hot, hot pan using a combination of butter for flavor with oil to help keep the butter from burning. Only cook these from rare to medium-rare. You’ll practically turn the medallions in the pan and they’re done. Keep in mind that your beef will continue to cook from the residual heat even after it’s removed from the pan.
This method of cooking is great for the very tender filet mignon, but it also is a great way to cook steaks that are much cheaper; slicing thinly, slightly pounding and flash frying until just rare to medium-rare means even a tougher cut is going to be ok. It won’t make a tough cut tender but it won’t get any tougher.
Let’s talk Medallions:
The term medallions is a little confusing. What we’re really talking about is a cut from the Beef Tenderloin. The tenderloin has three main “sections”, the large butt end, the center-cut, and then it tapers to the tail. While filet mignon is cut from the center, where the size is fairly even, medallions, properly called Tournedos of Beef, are usually from the scrappier tail. This scrappier tail can be used, too, for things like Beef Stroganoff, although I prefer sirloin for my stroganoff.
While you can use Filet Mignon for this recipe since that’s the premium part of the tenderloin, it’s not necessary to go that high end. This is a great way to “stretch” a couple of filets, though. Cut them in half horizontally (use the bacon usually wrapped around it for the sauce or for the Bacon Brussels Sprouts) and proceed with the recipe. Ask at your butcher shop or butcher area in the store if they have Tournedos or Medallions, or check the case.
Do beware, especially if you are buying from the case or on special, There are many cheaper cuts of beef masquerading as Filet Mignon. It’s easy for a new cook like my son, who isn’t in the habit of buying steak, to confuse these cuts, often packaged and wrapped in bacon, for Filet Mignon. Heck, even seasoned cooks can do that. Watch the wording on the package. Often they are labeled “steak” or “filet” and are usually cheaper steaks from the eye of round. The saddest thing? They cost less than filet mignon but cost a lot more for the same steak, labeled properly (and probably not wrapped in bacon) a few feet away.
Let’s talk Beef Tenderloin:
Beef tenderloin can run on a great grocery store sale (usually around Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day and sometimes during the summer) from $5.99 a pound to well over $100.00 a pound at the fanciest, premium mail order or butchers. There are two great ways to buy beef tenderloin on a budget (and you can read more about it on Buying and Prepping a Tenderloin, Beef or Pork.
The down & dirty is you can pick up your tenderloin from your Buyer’s club, prices, quality and availability vary, but they can be very reasonable. Or you can really watch the sales and grab them from the grocery. The price is right, but there’s no doubt that those tenderloins aren’t going to be USDA Prime, and they’re going to be a bit scrappy, probably not the full four to five pounds of a prime cut, and they’re going to need some trimming and tying.
The trimmings and scrappier tail end of your inexpensive budget-priced tenderloin (and of course this is just as good with expensive tenderloin, too) can be ideal for this recipe. If you’re buying your tenderloin and cutting your own filet mignon, roasting the tenderloin, or maybe doing something fancy like Beef Wellington, keep this recipe in mind to use the cuts from the tail end.
So I hope you found something useful here, and do hope you enjoy this recipe just as much as we do!! And most of all, like my son is, I hope you’re having this marvelous meal with a loved one. Happy cooking!Print
Medallions of Beef with Red Wine Reduction
- Total Time: under 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Beef Main Dish
- Cuisine: American
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin or alternative (see text on site)
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef broth or 1 cup beef, one cup chicken
- 1 cup dry red wine
Cut tenderloin into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces. Pound beef rounds to flatten to generous 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick medallions. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add two tablespoons butter to a saucepan. Add onions and thyme; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds longer. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Add broth and wine. Boil until sauce thickens and is reduced to about one cup stirring occasionally about 13 minutes at a good simmer.
After the sauce has simmered about five minutes, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sauté beef in skillet until brown on the outside but still pink in center, about two to three minutes on the first side. Watch for juice to develop on the top side, then turn and continue to cook to desired temperatuare, anywhere from 30 seconds up to a minute or two. Transfer beef to plate.
Add sauce to the hot skillet, whisking. You’ll notice it slightly thickens as it’s added. Don’t bring to a boil, just gently reheat; Add any juices from the resting beef and stir in.
Arrange medallions on a plate, add a little sauce, sprinkle with parsley if desired.
Note: If desired, if beef is wrapped in bacon, it may be chopped and added to the pan the sauce will cook in. Cook until rendered and just crispy. Remove bacon and proceed with the recipe using the bacon drippings plus enough butter to make two tablespoons. Sprinkle reserved bacon over the top of the finished dish.
Nutrition: based on 1/4 pound of beef, calories 421; Total Fat 25 g 38 %; Saturated Fat 11 g 54 %; Monounsaturated Fat 10 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 118 mg 39 %; Sodium 369 mg 15 %; Potassium 492 mg 14 %; Total Carbohydrate 5 g 2 %; Dietary Fiber 0 g 1 %; Sugars 1 g; Protein 33 g 67 %; Vitamin A 5 %; Vitamin C 3 %; Calcium 4 %; Iron 14 %
Keywords: Fabulous Food Posts and tagged Alcohol, Beef, Beef Stock, Beef Tenderloin, Family Recipe, Steak, Wine.
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