the appetizer:

James Peterson explains Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making with recipes like Oysters with Champagne Sauce; Tournedos Rossini (Filet of Beef with Sauce Périgueux); and Sautéed Pigeon Breasts with Giblet Sauce.

Cookbook Profile

Tournedos Rossini
(Filet of Beef with Sauce Périgueux)

Tournedos Rossini (Filet of Beef with Sauce Périgueux)

Yield: 4 Main-Course Servings


A tournedo is a perfect center-cut filet mignon from the tenderloin. Tournedos should always have the chain muscle that runs along one side of the filet removed. The classic "Rossini" garniture consists of a slice of terrine of foie gras and sauce Périgueux, made with chopped and sliced truffles.


1. Season the tournedos and allow them to come to room temperature.

2. In a 2-quart (2 liter) straight-sided sauté pan, sauté the tournedos in the clarified butter on both sides to the desired doneness, preferably rare. Pat off the cooking fat with paper towels and place on heated plates.

3. Place a slice of warm foie gras on each tournedo. Pour the sauce over and serve.


Sauce Périgueux
and Sauce Périgourdine

Both of these sauces are traditionally prepared by adding truffle essence to demi-glace. The only difference between the two is that Périgueux sauce is finished with chopped truffles whereas périgourdine sauce is finished with truffles turned in miniature olive shapes or with whole truffle slices. If you are using whole truffles, it is certainly far more dramatic to slice them than it is to chop them. If you have a Japanese mandoline (see page 29 of the book), a single truffle will supply fifty to sixty slices. Both of these sauces will benefit by finishing with Truffle Butter (below).

Truffle Essence (below) is used in these sauces to reinforce the flavor of the truffles. If none is available, it can be replaced with a full-bodied brown stock.

Classic Method. Bring 1-1/2 cups (375 milliliters) of demi-glace or coulis to a slow simmer. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. Add 5 tablespoons (75 milliliters) of truffle essence and 2 ounces (50 grams) of either chopped or sliced truffles. Remove the saucepan from the stove and cover with a tight-fitting lid, allowing the truffles to infuse into the sauce for at least 15 minutes. Yield: 2 cups (500 milliliters).

Meat-Glace Method. Bring 5 tablespoons (75 milliliters) of appropriately flavored brown stock (that is, beef stock for beef, duck stock for duck, and so forth) to a slow simmer. Skim off any froth that rises to the top, and add 5 tablespoons (75 milliliters) of truffle essence and 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) of meat glace. As soon as the meat glace dissolves in the hot stock, whisk in 2 ounces (50 grams) of butter or Truffle Butter (below), and add 2 ounces (50 grams) of chopped or sliced truffles. Cover the saucepan and put the sauce back on the stove just long enough for it to-come to a simmer and give it sheen. Cover the sauce and remove the pan from direct heat (the sauce should not boil). Let the truffles infuse for at least 10 minutes in the covered saucepan before serving. Yield: 1 cup (250 milliliters).

Unthickened Method. A consommé-like version of sauce périgourdine looks striking when served on a deep white plate or wide bowl. The easiest way to prepare an unbound version is to simply infuse truffle slices in a deeply flavored beef or appropriately flavored clear brown stock for 10 minutes over low heat.

Truffle Essence

Older recipes for classic sauces often call for truffle essence. Truffle essence is prepared by infusing sliced truffles in a small proportion of brown stock in a covered saucepan. Today, truffles are so scarce that it is unlikely that a restaurant would make truffle essence to have on hand to use in sauces. It is more likely that sliced truffles would be infused in the sauce itself or that the sauce would be finished with truffle butter or commercially available truffle juice.

Truffle Butter

Traditional recipes combine 4 ounces (125 grams) of fresh black truffles with 8 ounces (250 grams) of butter strained through a drum sieve. This is an extravagance that few restaurants (even those that serve truffles) can afford. A more economical method, which is exciting in its subtlety: is to unwrap sticks of butter and store them overnight in a tightly sealed jar with the fresh truffles. The next day the butter will reek of the truffles and can be used on top of grilled or sauteed foods or to give an ineffable, fleeting complexity to other sauces.


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This page created November 2008