Jay Smith, executive chef for Copper Door’s two locations in Salem and Bedford, N.H., heads an experienced team of cooks that trained together at the Bedford restaurant before going to the Salem site. Smith, who writes the menus for both locations, didn’t hesitate when we asked for two of his favorite winter holiday recipes. He first produced his bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin with mushroom Marsala sauce, followed by his ham and cheese strata, which is derived from his grandmother Estelle’s recipe for “ham and cheese brunch.”
The holidays are all about family, and sharing good food is what many of us remember well. Smith says he has been making beef tenderloin for his family’s Christmas Eve dinner “forever.” Sliced and presented buffet style, a 3 1/2- to 4-pound tenderloin feeds eight and is served warm and topped with mushroom Marsala sauce. As a main course, the tenderloin can be paired with mashed potatoes, green beans and fresh rolls.
He prepares the ham and cheese strata ahead of time. It makes for an easy and fun Christmas Day breakfast. Smith’s mother still has Estelle’s handwritten recipe for the “ham and cheese brunch.”
Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Marsala Sauce
3 1/2 to 4 pounds beef tenderloin, trimmed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped fine
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped fine
12 slices bacon
1. Pat dry the trimmed tenderloin and season with salt and pepper. Mix the herbs together and coat the tenderloin evenly.
2. Place a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board and lay out the bacon vertically and slightly shingled, about 1/8 of an inch overlap. There should be enough bacon to go the length of the tenderloin.
3. Place the tenderloin across the bacon about 1/4 of the way up, so there are 2 inches of bacon coming out the bottom side. Use the plastic wrap to lift the bacon up and around the tenderloin to start the rolling. Take the plastic wrap off the bacon and continue to roll the bacon over the tenderloin, tucking the bacon under so the tenderloin is completely wrapped. Tie on the bacon with butcher’s twine at 1-inch intervals to keep it in place.
4. In a large pan on the stove, sear each side until the bacon starts to brown. Transfer to a sheet tray and roast in a 425 F oven for 20 minutes for a medium-rare tenderloin. Serve with mushroom Marsala sauce.
Mushroom Marsala Sauce
1 ounce vegetable oil
2 tablespoons shallots, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, rough chopped
1/2 cup oyster mushrooms, rough chopped
1/2 cup Marsala
2 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pan drippings
1. In a saucepan, heat up the vegetable oil and add the shallots. Saute over medium heat for
1 minute. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat until the mushrooms start to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the Marsala and bring to a simmer. Add the beef stock and simmer for 15 minutes until it starts to reduce. Once it reduces by 1/4, remove from heat and whisk in the butter and the pan drippings. Serve immediately with the tenderloin.
Ham and Cheese Strata
2 ounces vegetable oil
1 cup scallions, chopped in 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup red pepper, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup asparagus, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
8 cups French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups ham, diced small
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups eggs, whisked
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat up the vegetable oil and add the scallions, asparagus and red pepper. Saute until tender. Add the white wine and cook for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat.
2. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place bread pieces in the baking dish. Spoon vegetable mix over the bread.
3. Sprinkle with the ham and cheese. Combine the eggs, milk and seasoning in a bowl and whisk together. Pour over the strata. Press down on the ingredients until they are all covered by the liquid.
4. Cover and chill overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking.
5. Cook at 325 F, covered, for 1 hour. Let cool slightly and cut.