Locals Island Bison Tournedos with Braised Lentil Ragout
This dish is a serious course in the elements of classic French cooking. The Braised French Lentil Ragout is outstanding. And yes, bison are being farmed (ranched?) on Vancouver Island, near Black Creek in the lush Comox River Valley.
For six servings
- 6 X 4 oz Island Bison Tenderloin
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups julienned white chipollini onions
- ¼ cup shallot, minced fine
- ½ Tbsp crushed black peppercorn
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
- 12 strips Tannadice Farms double smoked bacon
- 1 quart braised French lentil ragout (recipe below)
- 1 ½ cup Espagnol sauce (recipe below)
- 2 ½ oz Beaufort Winery cab sauv.
- 3 oz lavender jelly
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
Ask the Butcher to trim the meat and to cut it into six equal-size medallions.
In a small bowl, prepare the rub by mixing together all the following ingredients; 2 tbsp of olive oil, shallot, crushed peppercorn, basil, sea salt and fresh thyme. Rub each piece of bison on both sides.
Wrapped each tournedos with two strip of double smoked bacon and secure with a wooden skewer or long tooth pick so the bacon strip remain nicely wrapped around during cooking process. Set aside on a platter and refrigerate.
Before cooking the meat, caramelized the onion with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, until golden brown.
Make sure that your braised French lentil ragout and espagnol sauce is hot and ready to serve. Sear the meat in a pre-heated barbeque grill then continue to cook in lightly oiled skillet over medium to low heat for four to six minutes on each side. Bison should be served medium rare as it is lean and may dry if overcooked.
Remove the tournedos from the grill and keep warm on a plate. Deglaze skillet with red wine, reduce by ¾ of volume and strain into the Espagnol. To serve, place lentil ragout in the center of the plate. Place tournedos garnish with warmed onion fondue. Finish with Espagnol and lavender jelly.
Braised Lentil Ragout
Yield: 4 cups/1L
- 1 ½ cup green lentils
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ½ cup diced smoked pork belly
- ¾ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup chopped celery leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a braising pot, melt the butter at low heat, add the diced bacon, onion and celery. Sweat until the onions are translucent and add the lentils. Stir and cook dry for another five minutes. Pour chicken stock over the lentil and increase to high heat to bring to a gentle simmer, add the remaining of the ingredients and cook covered in a 300°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes.
The lentils should be tender without falling apart when done. Rectify seasoning if necessary. Keep warm for service. Add some water if consistency is too thick. Lentils should be tender but not falling apart.
Yield: 2 quarts
- 4 lbs bison or veal bones; cut in 6 to 8 cm pieces.
- 10 cups cold water
- 1 cup large diced yellow onion
- 1 cup large carrot
- 1 cup celery
- 1 cup leek
- ½ cup tomato paste
Sachet or Bouquet Garni:
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried whole thyme
- ½ tsp black peppercorn, crushed
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
Place the bones in a roasting pan, one layer deep, and brown in a 375′F oven. Turn the bones occasionally to brown them evenly. Remove the bones and place them in a stockpot. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan and reserve the fat. Deglaze the roasting pan with part of the cold water. Add the rest of the cold water to the bones, covering them completely. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Add a portion of the reserved fat to the roasting pan and sauté the mirepoix until evenly browned. Then add it to the simmering stock. Add the tomato paste and sachet to the stock and continue to simmer for six to eight hours, skimming as necessary.
Strain, cool and refrigerate.
Espagnol ( Brown Sauce)
- 1 ½ cup Mirepoix, equal amounts of diced onion, celery, carrot, leek
- 3 Tbsp clarified butter
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 quarts brown stock
- 2 Tbsp tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 bunch parsley stems
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Sauté the mirepoix in the fat until well caramelized.
Add the flour and cook to make a brown roux.
Add the brown stock and tomato puree. Stir to break up any lumps of roux. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add the sachet.
Simmer for approximately one and a half hours, allowing the sauce to reduce. Skim the surface as needed to remove impurities.
Strain the sauce through a china cap lined with several layers of cheese cloth. Adjust seasonings, cool and refrigerate.
Stock and brown sauce should be done in advance. They will keep refrigerated for three to four days.
Chef Ronald St. Pierre
Locals Restaurant in Courtenay, BC
Chef Ronald St. Pierre grew up in a small town East of Montreal in the middle of farm land. His first position was with Relais & Château Resort Les Trois Tillieuls. He moved to Vancouver in 1982 and, like so many, fell in love with the west coast. In 1990 he and his wife Tricia moved to the Comox Valley where by 2008 they opened Locals-Food from the Heart of the Island, a restaurant showcasing regional food production. A totally passionate locavore, he is Chair of the Board of the North Vancouver Island Chefs Association and deeply involved in Comox Valley Tourism.