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Sunday Dinners

Growing up my mom took good care of me. By this I mean that she clothed me, fed me and made damn sure I did all my homework.  All of this was done without pomp and circumstance, with little fuss and absolutely no fighting. Fighting with mom wasn't allowed, she was Mom.

Meals were well rounded if unoriginal. I can't count the times that I have eaten Chicken Enchilada Casserole.  She had other things to worry about such as raising a kid alone, managing bills, and finding a job that paid enough to allow for both of these things.  It was hard.

My introduction to cooking then wasn't the most enthusiastic of lessons. "You need to make a starch, a protein and a vegetable" were the basic instructions oh and "you have to cook one night a week, so you can learn".  Left to my own devices I kept it simple, cut corners and generally avoided as much labor as possible.  The results as you can guess were unimpressive.

So I have made some decisions in my new grown-up life.  One of these is that I would like to cook an elaborate meal once a week.  Particularly the laziest day meant for relaxing and enjoying life.  And so emerged Sunday Dinners.  Since instituting this tradition I have made two meals.  Below is Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Shallots.  As Sunday Dinners are special occasions this recipe is slow cooking and somewhat involved.  Definitely worth it.

Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Shallots


  • 3/4 pound shallots, halved lengthwise and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup port wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin roast, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 sprigs watercress, for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In 9 inch pie pan, toss shallots with oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until shallots are deep brown and very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

In a large saucepan, combine beef broth and port. Bring to a boil. Cook over high heat until thevolume is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Whisk in tomato paste. Set aside.   

Pat beef dry; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. In a large roasting pan, set over medium heat on the stove top, saute bacon until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add beef to pan; brown on all sides over medium high heat, about 7 minutes. 
Transfer pan to oven. Roast beef until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125 degrees F (50 degrees C) for medium rare, about 25 minutes. Transfer beef to platter. Tent loosely with foil. 
Spoon fat off top of pan drippings in roasting pan. Place pan over high heat on stove top. Add broth mixture, and bring to boil; stir to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to a medium saucepan, and bring to simmer. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoon butter and flour in small bowl to form smooth paste; whisk into broth mixture, and simmer until sauce thickens. Whisk in remaining butter. Stir in roasted shallots and reserved bacon. Season with salt and pepper. 

Cut beef into 1/2 inch thick slices. Spoon some sauce over, and garnish with watercress.

I should add an addendum to this which congratulates my mother on  her newfound love for cooking. Amazing what happens when your little birdie flies away and you have more time and money on your hands! She is now correcting me on the pronunciation of bruschetta; it's not the smooth bruschetta of the Anglicized tongue but apparently a much more guttural bruschketta! Who knew? There are now weekly recipe swaps and blog stalkings, all in search of the next big meal. . . .