Straight from Chef James Welch at the Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock, N.C., longtime food critic John E. Batchelor shares the recipe (and the chef’s story) in his new book Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants & Recipes from Western North Carolina. Here’s the scoop:
“Daddy, give me a kiss.”
Chefs work late hours. By the time they arrive home, the rest of the family has usually gone to bed. Chef James Welch often crossed paths with his daughters, Deanna and Melissa, as he was getting ready to leave for work in the afternoon and they were coming home from school. Their “give me a kiss” ritual grew out of those encounters. The “kisses” were Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, some of which he always carried in the pocket of his chef’s jacket. The little exchanges became part of their father-daughter ritual.
Late one night, after the staff had broken down the kitchen, James was sitting in the bar eating a steak. He was also sipping espresso, and the complementary blend of the two flavors struck him. Toward the end of the meal, he reached into his pocket on impulse and took out his last remaining Kiss. Restaurant kitchens are hot, and the Kiss had partially melted. Rather than throwing it away, he squeezed what he could out of the wrapper and ate it with his last sip of espresso. Chocolate and espresso: the flavors are a classic match. James wondered, if chocolate matches espresso, and espresso goes well with beef, what about some combination of all three?
Chocolate Kisses turned out to be far too sweet. But after several experiments, James settled on the combination he now uses, as specified in one of the recipes below.
James served the dish at a cystic fibrosis fundraising dinner in Charlotte. At the end of the evening, eight chefs were introduced, along with the dishes they had prepared. When the creator of the “Chocolate Steak” was announced, he received the only standing ovation from the crowd, as well as applause from the other chefs.
Chocolate Beef Tenderloin
1 quart heavy cream
¼ ounce espresso grounds
1 cup sugar
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
6 7-ounce beef tenderloins
2 ounces fresh coffee grounds
6 ½-ounce pieces bittersweet chocolate
To create sauce, combine cream, espresso grounds, and sugar. Simmer 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from stove. Stir in Baileys Irish Cream.
Roll tenderloins in coffee grounds. Grill to desired doneness; approximately 7 minutes per inch per side for medium, 5 minutes for medium rare. Cut a slice into center of each tenderloin and insert ½ ounce chocolate.
Place beef tenderloin in center of plate. Pour ½ ounce Baileys sauce over tenderloin. Serve with Au Gratin Potatoes and French Green Beans (find Chef Welch’s recipes for these in Chefs of the Mountains).
If you try the recipe, let us know what you think!