Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Filet Mignon with Crimini Mushroom Beurre Rouge

I don't eat red meat very often, not necessarily because of health reasons or anything, but because I just don't usually crave it. Today was the exception. I wanted red meat and nothing else was going to satisfy me, so Lou and I walked down to Real Foods and picked out two filets for our steak dinner. One normal sized for me and a gigantic one that Lou chose for himself. With some left over mashed potatoes and asparagus from the farmer's market that I had already blanched, we'd be eating our feast in no time.

I'm sure a lot of you like to grill your steak, but I prefer to pan sear it and finish it in the oven. Grilling is not very convenient when you live in an apartment and honestly, I think it's a little over-rated. I like the taste of meat and don't need to mask it with charcoal, especially when starting with $20 a pound steak. After searing the steaks on both sides, I placed them in a 350 degree oven and stuck my digital meat thermometer probe into the center of one. When the thermometer beeped telling me the steak's internal temperature was 125 degrees for medium-rare, I removed the pan from the oven, placed the steaks on plates and covered them both with foil. Steaks need to rest before you can cut into them, giving you time to make a sauce in the same pan you used to cook the steaks. I encourage you to be creative with the sauce. You can use whatever flavors you like, but the goal is not to cover up the flavor of the meat, only to enhance it. I think a wine or port sauce does a great job of this. You can make a simple beurre rouge with some chopped shallot, red wine, and cold unsalted butter. To jazz it up, you can add a dash of balsamic vinegar, use half port, half red wine, add an herb such as thyme, or whatever you like. Tonight, I happened to have some fresh crimini mushrooms from the farmer's market that I sauteed with the shallot before adding half wine, half port, probably about 1/2 cup of each. When the liquids are reduced and thick, turn off the heat and stir in the cold butter until the mixture is emulsified. I added about 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Then add salt and pepper to taste. The biggest difficulty that most amateur chefs face while making a buerre rouge is a sauce that breaks. This happens when there is too much heat or adding butter that is not cold enough. To ensure the sauce doesn't break, I turn off the burner before stirring in the cold butter. Also, always serve a butter sauce immediately, if it is allowed to stand, it will surely break.

The sauce may sound fattening, but remember that a serving of this richly flavored concoction is quite small. Keep that in mind also when tasting for salt and pepper. You want it to be concentrated in flavor. I hope you have fun experimenting. Let me know if you have any questions.

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