I’ve never cared to eat out on Valentine’s Day. The restaurants are crowded and, often, the meal is overpriced and not very good. The veal version of this recipe was in my 12th grade home economics book. But in culinary school, driving from shop to shop around a sleepy suburb of London on a Saturday afternoon was not the easiest way to find veal escalopes for a dinner party that night. I know better now. This recipe is fabulous with beef tenderloin or fillet steak, but tenderloin easily costs $20 per pound, so I’ve made it with Angus petite sirloin when it’s on sale, as well as chicken breast and pork tenderloin. As you all know, you can’t even rely on any beef steak to be tender—some from the same packet are meltingly tender and others really chewy.
With pork tenderloin or chicken, this is really affordable for a dinner party. The sauce can be made the night before. I normally don’t serve this with any other vegetable with this apart from some tiny potatoes, which can be cooked and ready to reheat in boiling water the night before as well.
- 2 4-6 oz. (125-175 g) tenderloin/fillet steaks, any silver skin removed (more than a 6 oz. tenderloin is really too much for us to eat with comfort)
OR veal escalopes, pork tenderloin noisettes
OR thin slices of chicken tenders/suprèmes
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely crushed
- 2-4 slices of gluten-free lean bacon, scissored thin (I use Jones Dairy Farm labeled gluten-free. Remember that meat comes under the USDA and doesn’t have to be labelled gluten-free.)
- 1-2 Tbsp. (15-30 ml) olive oil
- ½ lb. (250 g) button mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
- 4 Tbsp. (60 ml) brandy
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy dairy or coconut cream (or less, light cream doesn’t have the same rich flavor)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat an 8-10” (20-25 cm) skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and bacon, then cook until bacon starts softening and releasing fat.
- Add onion and garlic and gently cook until onion is very soft and starting to brown.
- Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If preparing the night before, stop here are remove this mix to a bowl.)
- Return skillet to heat, add lightly seasoned beef and cook over medium heat until there is a nice sear on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip to other side, cook about 3 minutes, add mushroom mix back to pan and let heat for about 1 minute.
- If you have thick pieces of tenderloin or like meat really well cooked, then cook meat for longer at step 4. Thin veal, chicken or pork escalopes will cook far quicker than a thick tenderloin.
- Pour brandy into measuring cup and pour onto one side of pan to heat. Use gas grill lighter to ignite brandy and stand well back because it will whoosh. Keep kids and dogs away. If brandy is cold, it won’t ignite. Domestic stove tops won’t normally let you ignite brandy by tilting the pan the way TV chefs do. Shake the pan gently to mix.
- Once brandy has burnt off, add cream and let everything simmer together for a few more minutes. Squeeze in juice of half a lemon for tang, stir in fresh parsley and simmer for 1 more minute.