My Momma was a believer in searing meat to 'seal in' the juices. Of course, now days we know searing doesn't help one iota in producing juicer meat, at least not when cooked properly. We sear meat for appearance, to brown the outside, to form a crust and to form flavors that simple braising alone cannot do. Using a dry heat method, this process is done really fast over very high heat, nothing below 320 degrees F. and normally 450 degrees or higher. Using a little oil helps to speed this process along with keeping the meat from sticking. To sear correctly, the meat is rotated on all sides to form the crust. Cooking meats at a lower temperature than 310 degrees F. will not generate enough heat to form a crust and moisture from the meat will escape producing a moist-heat method. Cooking in this manner or braising, is for tougher cuts of meat and requires much longer cooking times yet still yielding a tender, juicy piece of meat.
In the recipe below, Momma used tenderloin tips, which takes to the searing method nicely. She may not have realized why she cooked this way, quickly browning the outside for appearance sake and to improve flavor, but she knew it worked and it was good. Tenderloin is much pricier now than it was back then. The fact that we raised cattle and knew the butcher may have helped but I also know she used sirloin cubes as well. Today, what we find at the grocery stores labeled 'beef tips' are really odd cuts of meat, scraps and trimmings from all over the cow. Unless labeled as to what cut of meat the tips are from, it is always better to buy a small roast and cut it up yourself, many times saving money. Beef tips are used for many things - like my favorite addition to chili, great grilled for fajitas or slow cooked for beef stew to name a few. I've made a few changes in her original recipe like decreasing the butter and adding olive oil, adding capers for depth and fresh thyme instead of dried. I hope you will try it.
Momma's Beef Tips & Mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 lbs beef tenderloin tips or sirloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 pounds mushroom caps, cremini or baby portobello, brushed clean and halved
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Note: If using dried thyme, add just a pinch when adding the broth.