This wonderfully rich dish with its lingering flavors comes together very quickly, and makes quite a lasting impression.

4 1 1/2"-thick slices from the tournedo end of beef tenderloin
lightly salted and peppered all-purpose flour for dredging

2 tablespoons good olive oil, preferably porcini mushroom-infused
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, in all
3 tablespoons dried cranberries, covered with dry white vermouth in a
glass measure, brought just to the boil in a microwave oven
3-4 large shallots, peeled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dark molasses, to broaden the sauce (optional)
1/2 pound of just-ripe brie cheese, peeled if you like, to stuff butterflied

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Split the filets crosswise, leaving a "hinge" of meat that enables you to open the filet like a book. Dry the steaks thoroughly with paper towels, and dredge them in the seasoned flour. Proceed promptly.

In the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over lively medium heat, in a large heavy skillet, sauté the dredged and opened filets, 2-3 minutes per side. Place each steak (or two, for a large portion) on an oven-proof serving dish. Tent with foil to keep warm.

In a mini-processor, mince shallots and spill them into the skillet over medium-low heat. In same processor, purée the cranberry/vermouth mixture. Add to the skillet with balsamic and optional molasses. Reduce over medium heat for 6 minutes or so while proceeding with steaks.

Lay slices of brie cheese across one side of each opened steak, and close the other half over them, using toothpicks to fasten. Warm in the oven for 3-4 minutes, just until the brie melts.

Swirl sweet butter into the sauce. Adjust seasoning, pour over steaks, and serve at once.

Yield: 2-4 servings, depending on the appetites of those present

Copyright © 1999 - 2007 by Tom Steele. All rights reserved.