Tournedos Rossini Is The French Steak Dish Named After A Famous Composer

Closeup Tournedos Rossini French steak
Closeup Tournedos Rossini French steak - Maksim Toome/Shutterstock

If there were one word to describe Tournedos Rossini, it would be operatic. There is nothing subtle about this classic French steak dish. Though the serving size is nothing in comparison to a bistecca alla Fiorentina, the refinement and 19th century romanticism of Tournedos Rossini is almost second to none. It is a rich, decadent steak dish with a name that could not be more fitting.

Named for the famed Italian opera composer Gioachino Rossini, Tournedos Rossini is a dish composed of a base of toasted bread, topped with a beautiful filet of beef, topped with black truffles, topped with a piece of sautéd foie gras, and all lathered in a thick gravy of stock and Madeira wine. Not something you're just going to slap together on a weeknight, is it? Tournedos Rossini is the epitome of the grand nature of French cuisine, the traditions of which birthed nearly all of the techniques used in professional cooking today.

If you have the resources and the wherewithal to make this highly involved dish at home, you should by all means give it a try. However, Tournedos Rossini is most at home in a fine restaurant. We're going to go over the operatic origins of Tournedos Rossini, tell you how it is made, and just where the heck you can find a place that serves it.

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Operatic Origins

Composer Gioachino Rossini portrait photo
Composer Gioachino Rossini portrait photo - Heritage Images/Getty Images

You may not recognize Gioachino Rossini if his picture were placed in front of you. You might not even know any of his music by name. You have, however, definitely heard his music: The opening credits of  "Mrs. Doubtfire"? Spoofing "The Barber of Seville." That song everyone sings aloud when you're running a race? That's the finale of "The William Tell Overture." Both were written by Rossini, who was born in Italy in 1792 and died in Paris in 1868.

Despite being a famous Italian, Rossini's love of opera and food brought him to what was, then, the capital of culture in Europe, Paris. Naturally, his time there endeared him to the French methods of cooking. He became widely known as an astute gourmet and an ardent supporter of chefs. The steak dish that bears his name was devised specifically for Rossini by his good friend, chef Casimir Moissons. However, there are other accounts that suggest other chefs, like Marie-Antione Careme, Adolphe Dulgere, or Auguste Escoffier, developed Tournedos Rossini in tribute to the great composer.

Whoever invented it, the dish has gone on to become a classic of French cuisine of that period. It is also considered to be an embodiment of Franco-Italian relations. Named for an Italian composer, cooked in the French tradition, and made using a shared favorite ingredients of the two countries: beef and black truffles. Its story could be an opera of its own.

How Tournedos Rossini Is Made

Tournedos rossini with truffles
Tournedos rossini with truffles - Rossa di sera/Shutterstock

Making Tournedos Rossini is no simple feat. It can take several hours, even days, to get all of the elements just right for this dish. The thing that takes the longest, and where the recipe truly starts, is with the stock needed to make the rich Madeira wine sauce. The recipe calls for a rich gravy to be made, consisting of boiled-down beef or veal stock that has been enriched with butter, shallots, and Madeira wine. It's the concentrating of the stock that takes the longest. Some chefs have spent 12 hours getting it just right.

The gravy is made and everything else proceeds rather quickly; though, there are a lot of ingredients to keep track of. A tournedos, which is a thick steak cut from the back of the cow, is cut into a thick ring, seasoned, and cooked briefly over high heat to get a good sear on all sides. In keeping with French style, the steak is rare. It will come to rest atop a piece of grilled bread.

The dish also contains the controversial ingredient foie gras. Highly rich and flavorful goose liver that has been engorged and enriched through the process of force-feeding, it is quickly pan-seared in butter and placed atop the steak. A shaving of black truffles follows, with the finishing touch being a wonderful cloak of rich gravy poured over everything.

Where On Earth Can You Get Some?

Fast moving professional kitchn
Fast moving professional kitchn - Burke/triolo Productions/Getty Images

Unless you are prepared to take on this rather expensive dish — none of the ingredients are what you would call cheap — in your own kitchen, the only places where you are going to find Tournedos Rossini are in fine dining establishments. More often than not, Tournedos Rossini comes with a Michelin Star or two stamped on the restaurant's doorway. Places like the three-starred Allenò Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, French brasseries, and bistros are all known to serve up this classic.

If you want to get Tournedos Rossini in the United States, your best bet is New York City. One place where the steak dish has been a popular menu item for years is La Siréne in SOHO.  Tournedos Rossini first appeared as an occasional special but was made a menu fixture by popular customer demand. Other New York establishments, such as Benoit and Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin have been known to serve up Tournedos Rossini from time to time.

While the operatic and grandiose nature of this steak dish certainly isn't for everyone, there is no denying the fact that it is a true classic of French cuisine. If you decide to make Tournedos Rossini yourself or seek out a place where it is served, you're in for a bite of history.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.