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Pancetta-Wrapped Beef with Mustard Cream Sauce


When looking for a recipe to try, I find myself repeatedly drawn to certain things. In general, I prefer natural food pairings: peas and mint, asparagus and parmesan, brussels sprouts and bacon. Even though I like flavor combinations to be on the conventional side, I do want food to be inspired, but never forced. I don’t like tortured dishes made from overly complicated recipes — meaning the ones with too many things going on.

I look for balance. I want harmony. The plate has to “work.” Most importantly, it has to let the ingredients shine. The emphasis should be on letting food taste like what it is supposed to taste like. I’m not that keen on hiding the flavors with a bunch of heavy spices, nor do I look fondly on over-worked preparation.

Simplicity is best. Simplicity is not boring, it’s elegant.

That is what I like about this recipe. It’s just enough work to be interesting, but not so much that it is a chore. I have tweaked it a bit from its original, but it makes a terrific little meal when you don’t have a lot of time, but want a lot of style.

Ingredients:

1 pound of tender cut beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (you should have about 12 cubes total)

About 12 thin slices of pancetta or proscuitto, one per beef cube

2 tablespoons of canola oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1/4 cup of Bourbon

1/4 cup of water

1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard

1/4 cup of heavy cream

2 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped

How to prepare:

1. Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towel. Wrap each cube with a slice of pancetta or a slice of proscuitto, making sure to cover as much of the cube as possible. If you have rolled pancetta, you can unroll it and then wrap it around each cube.

2. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Place the wrapped cubes seam-side down in the pan. Sear the cubes evenly on all sides, about a minute or two per side. You want the beef to stay medium rare, but the pancetta to crisp a little bit.

Remove the beef cubes to a paper towel-lined plate while you finish the sauce.

3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the shallots to the same skillet. Sauté the shallots until they begin to get translucent, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Carefully add the bourbon and the water to the pan. Dissolve the browned bits in the added liquid. Once most of the alcohol has cooked away, add the mustard and the heavy cream. Stir everything together. Continue to simmer the sauce until it has thickened. Turn off the heat, and add the parsley to the sauce.

4. To serve, top the beef cubes with the sauce and eat.

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