Filet Mignon with Balsamic Glaze…

Filet mignon is a classic cut of beef for special occasions.  Tonight is my mother’s birthday, so I decided to make her a nice steak dinner.  Filet is a medallion cut from the beef tenderloin.  A good quality filet should be well marbled with fat lines, but still bright cherry red and not faded brown.  It’s thick, juicy, tender, and meaty.  In other words, it’s perfect.  You know what else is perfect? Bacon.

Regular readers know that bacon is awesome to me, and it should be to you.  It’s scientifically proven that bacon really does make everything better.  Otherwise, why else would they have bacon band-aids, gum, jelly beans, wallets, shirts, mints, candies, chocolates, action figures… no really check it out they do.  Accoutrements makes a lot of it.

There are many people ranging from everyday cooks to professional chefs who recommend salting meat right before cooking otherwise it dries out too much.  I looked into the different methods and decided to salt after cooking right before eating if at all.  

The result was tender, meaty steak not dried out at all.  This is the way I will make any steak from now on.  Of course there are exceptions (prime rib MUST be seasoned hours ahead of time for example).

A common prime cut pairing in restaurants is goat cheese.  It melts nicely and adds creaminess to the steak.  I also topped it off with a balsamic glaze, which is basically balsamic vinegar and sugar cooked down until thick.

This will taste great and add sweetness to our steak.  We can’t have a steak dinner without side dishes.  That’s where sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted potatoes and sauteed brussel sprouts come into play.

They get a bad rap because if they’re undercooked, they are bitter.  I mean nasty bitter.  This can be avoided by two ways: cook them enough (I sauteed until browned) or blanch them first before you cook them.

Put it all together with a nice glass of Zinfandel and you get a great dinner.

I also cooked down the steak and bacon drippings from the oven into a thick slurry and put one dollop on each steak under the balsamic glaze.  The drippings were so good I was tempted to drink it.  Instead, I put a little on some baguette for a snack before dinner.

If price is an issue, you can get cheap balsamic vinegar at stores like Ross or Walmart.  For this recipe, that’s okay because we’re reducing it down to what a higher end vinegar would taste like anyways.

Cutting into the steak we’ll find that…

By searing it first in the pan then finishing it in the oven, you don’t overcook the outer edges like you would just in the frying pan.  Even with an extremely hot pan, you are bound to get 1/8″ to 1/4″ grey meat by the time the inside is medium or medium-rare.  High end restaurants sear first then either broil or roast like I did.  I’ll also add that this cut above is from the end of the filet, a part often over-done and closer to medium well.

Filet Mignon with Balsamic Glaze

6 filet mignon, about 8-10 oz each
6 slices thick bacon
6 toothpicks
4 oz goat cheese
1 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 T sugar
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 T butter

4 cups brussel sprouts, halved and ends snipped
1 large tray white mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, finely sliced

Let the beef sit out for at least one hour, preferably two to warm up to room temperature.  Pat them very dry and wrap bacon around and pin bacon in place with a toothpick.  Season with pepper on both sides.  Drizzle olive oil on both sides just to coat the surface.

Preheat oven to 400 F with a jelly roll pan in it (or similar pan).  In a saucepan, add the vinegar and sugar.  Bring to a boil and let reduce until about 1/3 of original amount and it should be thick.  If it’s not, add cornstarch mixed with a little water.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Over medium high heat, bring the pan up so that it is very hot.  Drop 2 T butter into pan and let it coat the pan.  The butter should sizzle and foam a lot.  This means it is hot enough to add the steaks.

Add the steaks and make sure they don’t touch.  Sear for 4 minutes and turn over for another 4 minutes.  They should be browned well.  Place on the pre heated baking pan and stick in the oven for another 5-7 minutes, until medium rare or medium (about 130 degrees) for a thick cut.

While steaks are in the oven, add brussel sprouts to steak and bacon drippings, season with salt and pepper, and saute until browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove and add mushrooms with 2 T butter.  Let them brown before stirring, about 3-4 minutes.  When they are all sauteed, remove and add onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and let them sit to caramelize.  When they are browned and smell sweet, add mushrooms back and mix well.  Remove and set aside with sprouts.

When steaks are done, top with goat cheese and place under the broiler for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.  Drizzle warm balsamic glaze over steaks. Serve with vegetables.

*next up…vanilla roasted pears…*

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