Ending 2013 in Style: Filet Mignon with a Garlicky Rub and Balsamic Pan Sauce

filet mignon served with sweet potato and green beans

I struggled to answer the question, “What was your best bite of 2013?”. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of great food and wine over the course of the year! There were two wine club dinners, the most recent one featuring an amazing lamb stew to go with some wonderful Bordeaux. We had several very good meals during our getaway to Saratoga. I recall tasty Pork Tinga with our OTBN wine dinner, and several great meals with foodie friends and family. This Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa was a memorable new recipe.

So instead of writing about my best meal of 2013, I’ll share our final meal of the year, because that was pretty tasty. Our lad has acquired a taste for filet mignon, and has been urging me to cook it again for awhile. New Year’s Eve seemed like a suitable occasion to do so. We’re going to be very focused on managing our food budget while still eating well in 2014, so this was a nice indulgence before getting fully into frugal mode. If you, too, seek to indulge a bit at some point soon, this simple recipe is certainly worthy!

4 five oz filet mignon steaks (mine were about 1.5 inches thick)
1 tbsp olive oil plus oil spray

For the rub
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
generous pinch cinnamon

For the sauce
1 shallot, chopped
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp of truffle oil (optional)

filet mignon with garlicky rub on plate waiting to be cooked

Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl. Rub over the filet mignon to lightly coat the steaks, and set aside on a plate for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperatures. Place a sturdy skillet on the stove top. Heat the olive oil (and I also spray the pan with oil spray to make sure it’s well covered), tilting the pan so it spreads evenly. Once it is good and hot, add the filet mignon to the pan. Sear on one side for about 4 minutes, then flip to cook for about 4 more minutes. This cooked them a nice medium rare; you’ll want to adjust your cooking time based on thickness and how you like it cooked. (but please don’t overcook it!)

When the filets are cooked, remove from the pan, place on a platter to rest, loosely covered with foil. Return the skillet to the stove on medium high heat. Add two tbsp of butter to melt. Stir it in and scrape up the bits of meat and fat to incorporate into the sauce . Add the shallots, cook about 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar, cook for about 3 more minutes so that the sauce thickens a bit. Finish by stirring in the final tbsp of butter until it is melted. You could cook longer to get it good and thick, but I was eager to get eating!

Pour the sauce into a bowl, stir in the truffle oil if you are using. Place one filet on the plate of each of your lucky dinner companions. You can serve it with the sauce or let them take what they want at the table. We served this with a choice of baked russet or sweet potatoes, plus green beans. The sauce is nice on potatoes, too.

back label of 2011 Peter Franus Napa Zinfandel

Wine pairing: A great bottle of wine can uplift a humble meal. For instance, splurging a bit on a nice cab to go with a simple grilled burger can be a nice option. But I was pretty sure the opposite strategy was a bad idea, so wanted to pick a nice wine fit for a special occasion. The 2011 Peter Franus Napa Zinfandel fit the bill very well! A subtle scent of violet on the nose. After a little taste, I figured this young wine could benefit from a little decanting. Thirty minutes later, it had blossomed nicely, with plum and blackberry fruit, and chocolate on the finish. Nice lush mouthfeel. A good pairing to end a good food year!

Inspiration: I browsed several recipes to get ideas for this. This one for Filet Mignon with Cranberry-Zinfandel Sauce looked really good, and helped nudge me toward the zin pairing. I’ll probably make this one following Peggy’s method one of these days. The cooking method and idea of using balsamic came via my
Williams-Sonoma Steak and Chopir?t=davbcro 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0743261860 books. (Full disclosure: book links on the blog go to Amazon, I get a small share of purchases from these links…but only link to books and products that I enjoy!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *