The steaks, ah yes, the steaks; the main course of our Valentine’s Day meal. The best place to start.
The Back Story
They were directly inspired by “Steak and Sides” a Barefoot Contessa episode that we caught one lazy weekend maybe a month ago. As a rule, I am not a steak fan (I’ll enjoy one every now and then), but my sweetie really is. He’s a real beef man – burgers, steaks, whatever.
In the episode Ina made a couple of steaks, sautéed mushrooms, and onion rings. The episode really made me drool. My sweetie heard what she was talking about from the other end of the apartment and joined me on the sofa to watch and then turned to me and said, “You have to make that steak someday soon!”
As Valentine’s Day approached we agreed that we would skip the gifts this year since we have been investing in new furniture, apartment redecoration, and paying off some debt, we tried to think of something special to do. And then it hit me – I’d make a great dinner! (After all, for the wedding we received kitchen gadgets and prep tools galore – not to mention some really awesome Le Creuset pans!)
Obviously, some preparation had to go into making this dish and you may not have all the ingredients on hand, so read the recipe at the end of this post carefully before you begin.
A few days before Valentine’s I ordered (yes, ordered – we have most of our groceries delivered to us in NYC) some of the staples we had run low on and two beautiful hand-cut filet mignon, about 2.5″ thick and 10 ounces a piece. A pleasant surprise was that the market had them on special for Valentine’s Day, which was perfect!
On the morning of Valentine’s Day, we headed out to Dean & Deluca to pick up the rest of what we would need – the Roquefort, the fleur de sel, and the chives. My sweetie was so excited about the upcoming meal that he happily visited the store with me, crowded as it was, and smiled the whole time. He even carried the basket! (He normally does…)
It was turning out to be a lovely day.
The Steak Recipe (Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, “Steak and Sides,” Ina Garten, 2008)
What You’ll Need:
- 2 (10-ounce) filet mignon
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
- 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional
- Roquefort Chive Sauce, recipe follows
What to Do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with vegetable oil. Combine the fleur de sel and cracked pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.
When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.
Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter, if using, and place the skillet in the oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you’re actually testing the middle of the steak.)
Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve hot with Roquefort Chive Sauce on the side.
The Roquefort Chive Sauce Recipe (Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, “Steak and Sides,” Ina Garten, 2008)
What You’ll Need:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 ounces French Roquefort cheese, crumbled (4 ounces with rind)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
What to Do:
Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has become thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese, salt, pepper and chives and whisk rapidly until the cheese melts.
The sauce recipe yields 4 servings.
Tips and Tricks
- It’s a good idea to let the filet mignon reach room temperature, or close to it, before placing in the pan.
- Use a touch less fleur de sel if you are sensitive to salty foods.
- Use a coffee grinder to crack the whole pepper corns.
- If you like your steak more well-done, cook in the skillet for about a minute longer on each side, keep in oven a touch longer.
- You can use half-and-half in place of heavy cream for a lighter sauce, or a combination of heavy cream and half-and-half.
- If you don’t know what to do with the Roquefort sauce leftovers, cut the recipe in half – you’ll have plenty.
The steaks came out beautifully. My sweetie wants them again immediately. I must say that I had my reservations about making this meal, but it was a delight – the sauce was the perfect compliment to the fleur de sel and cracked pepper crust. We will definitely be enjoying this again – hopefully with some dinner guests the next time around!
Anyone want to come over?