Happy Birthday, My Love

In case you haven’t yet figured this out, I am not really a steak kind of gal. However, after indulging in a peppercorn crusted filet mignon with port cherry reduction, I just might become one! Where did this delicacy come from? My kitchen, of course.

Poor, poor filet. It’s been sitting in freezer since (*gasp*) Valentine’s day. We bought a pack of 4, cooked up two of them, and planned to save the rest for another special occasion. Well, that didn’t roll around until Ben’s birthday (the day after Ben’s birthday, to be exact). I told him I’d make the filet, and I set about finding a recipe I though we’d both enjoy. My friend Laura was nice enough to share the recipes for the filet and the finishing sauce. I know that a true steak purist would scoff at the though of sauce on a filet, but we really enjoyed the flavor combinations here. And, I must say, I think I finally understand the appeal of a good filet. Most steaks I find difficult to chew and swallow and thus just don’t really get enjoyment out of eating them. Maybe this is because I grew up only being exposed to sirloin tip and London broil. But a tender filet that almost melts in your mouth… yes, I finally get it!

I started the meal with a simple field green salad, with roasted red peppers, cucumber, tomato, feta, and a vidalia onion – cider vinaigrette. To go alongside the filet, I embellished a package of wile rice with some sauteed garlic, scallions, and sliced almonds. Ben described it as flavorful, succulent, and up there with some of the best steaks he has ever had. I am glad I was able to prepare this birthday treat for him!
(Note, I cut these recipes in half to prepare enough for two steaks.)

Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon

While heating the peppercorns in oil tempers much of their pungent heat, this recipe is still pretty spicy. If you prefer a very mild pepper flavor, drain the cooled peppercorns in a fine-mesh strainer in step 1, toss them with 5 tablespoons of fresh oil, add the salt, and proceed.
5 tablespoons black peppercorns , cracked
5tablespoons olive oil , plus 2 teaspoons
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 center-cut filets mignons , 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, 7 to 8 ounces each, trimmed of fat and silver skin

1. Heat peppercorns and 5 tablespoons oil in small saucepan over low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When mixture is room temperature, add salt and stir to combine. Rub steaks with oil and pepper mixture, thoroughly coating top and bottom of each steak with peppercorns. Cover steaks with plastic wrap and press gently to make sure peppercorns adhere; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until faint smoke appears. Place steaks in skillet and cook, without moving steaks, until dark brown crust has formed, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn steaks and cook until well browned on second side, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer steaks to hot baking sheet. Roast 3 to 5 minutes for rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Transfer steaks to wire cooling rack and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

Port Cherry Reduction
Makes about 1 cup

1 1/2 cups port
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1large shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Table salt

1. Combine first five ingredients in medium saucepan;simmer over medium-low heat until liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 30 minutes. Set aside, covered.2. While steaks are resting, reheat sauce. Off heat, remove thyme, then whisk in butter until melted. Season with salt to taste.

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3 Responses to “Happy Birthday, My Love”

  1. 1

    Elly — July 2, 2007 @ 3:20 pm Reply

    That looks really good! Yum, filet. I am glad you now appreciate a good filet. Best.thing.ever :)

  2. 2

    Amber — July 2, 2007 @ 9:29 pm Reply

    Happy Birthday Ben. Looks like Cara made you a great dinner.

  3. 3

    Amber — April 5, 2011 @ 1:11 am Reply

    Happy Birthday Ben. Looks like Cara made you a great dinner.

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