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PEPPER CRUSTED FILET MIGNON

A 'fan' favorite paired with whipped potatoes, wilted spinach, red wine reduction and crispy shallots.



One of my favorite cooking challenges is to make something that I won't eat, and try to make it better than the people that can cook and will eat it. My first attempt at filet mignon came after watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen on PBS I think, where they featured a beautiful pepper crusted steak. The first time I made it I paired it with potatoes, spinach and a red wine reduction.


As the meal has evolved over the years I've made some tweaks to the potato recipe, adding some romano or asiago cheese to give it a sharper or nuttier flavor that compliments the wine reduction. Another change has been the crispy shallots, which givef a nice texture element to the dish. The only problem with the shallots is that I don't have the right equipment to cook them properly and I actually started a fire on the stove once, and almost started a fire a second time. Not only did I serve a wonderful meal but provided some pyrotechnics free of charge!


The steak recipe has always stayed the same, and everyone who I have made it for agrees that it's one of my best. So if you're looking for an elegant steak entree to impress your date, your spouse, or anyone you're having over for dinner, this is a great one to try! And if you're a vegetarian you can always try this meal with a meat substitute, totally worth it.


Ingredients:

Steak

  • 1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns (crushed)

  • 2 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt

  • 1 Tsp Garlic Salt

  • 4 Tbsp Light Tasting Olive Oil (divided)

  • 2 Filets

Reduction

  • 1 Cup Pinot Noir (go for earthy flavors like clove, mushroom and tobacco over fruity ones like black cherry and raspberry)

  • 1 Cup Vegetable Broth

  • 2 Tsp Black Peppercorns

  • 3 Thyme Sprigs

  • 1 Rosemary Sprig

  • 3 Garlic Cloves (sliced thick)

  • 1 Shallot (sliced thick)

  • 2 Tbsp Salted Butter

Crispy Shallots

  • 3 Shallots (sliced)

  • 2 Cups Whole Milk or Buttermilk

  • 2 Cups Canola Oil

  • 1 Cup Flour

Mashed Potatoes

  • 6 Yukon Gold Potatoes

  • 2 Russet Potatoes

  • 2 Tbsp Butter

  • ¼ Cup Half and Half

  • ¼ Cup Sour Cream

  • Salt to taste

Wilted Spinach

  • 5 Ounces Fresh Spinach

  • 1 Tbsp Butter

  • 2 Garlic Cloves (minced)

  • ½ Cup Vegetable Broth


Directions:

Note: You’ll want to time things so the shallots and the reduction are the last things to be ready


Steak

  • Crush the peppercorns into large pieces by placing them in a paper towel and using the bottom of a heavy skillet or a meat pounder

  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the peppercorns and stir until the peppercorns become fragrant but don’t let them overheat or burn

  • Allow the oil to cool then add the sea salt to the mixture and stir until dissolved

  • Sprinkle garlic salt over all sides of the filet

  • Coat the top and the bottom of the filet with a ‘crust’ the peppercorn mixture, cover and press with saran wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour

  • Preheat oven to 400° F and place a baking

  • Heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet on med-high

  • Once the oil starts to smoke add the filet, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until the crust has set

  • Place filets on the pre-heated baking sheet in the oven and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes to reach medium to medium-well

Reduction

  • Combine all ingredients in a pot except for the butter

  • Bring to a simmer until the liquid is reduced by half

  • Pour liquid through a mesh strainer into a glass bowl and allow to cool to a warm temp

  • Whisk in the butter until dissolved

Crispy Shallots

  • Soak the shallots in milk for 15 minutes

  • Heat oil to 350° F

  • Pull from the milk and place into a quart sized plastic bag with the flour

  • Seal / close bag and shake until shallots are coated

  • Remove shallots from the flour and shake in your hands or a strainer to remove excess flour

  • Fry the shallots a layer at a time until slightly golden, be careful not to overcook them

  • Remove from oil and put on a rack over paper towels

  • Salt to taste

Mashed Potatoes

  • Peel and chop potatoes into ½ inch sized chunks

  • Place in a large stock pot with salted water

  • Bring to a boil and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until you can mash a chunk of potato with a fork

  • Drain the potatoes and place back into the pot on low heat

  • Add milk, butter, sour cream and salt

  • Mash until potatoes have reached desired texture

  • Add more of the previous ingredients if necessary, to taste; garlic salt and grated romano cheese may also be added to enhance flavor

Wilted Spinach

  • Melt butter in a large pan and add garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes

  • Add fresh spinach and vegetable broth

  • Cook until wilted and remove from heat

  • Salt and pepper to taste

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