Friday, November 5, 2010

Higher Learning: Roasted Filet Mignon with Ancho-Red Pepper Sauce

Monthly Feature
Get ready advanced cooks. Vivek brings the knowledge up a notch with Higher Learning!

Filet Mignon is luxury when it comes to steak. Its melt in your mouth tenderness is unmatched in the world of meat. It’s likely the first steak you get when you go to a steakhouse, and it’s also the likely steak you order when someone else is getting the tab! What I love about filet, as opposed to some other cuts like NY Strip and Ribeye, is that you can really use a lot of flavors to act as a supporting cast. Because filet does not have a lot of fat, it can use some help in the flavor department. So when I cook filet, I make this great sauce with spicy and fruity ancho chiles and sweet roasted red bell peppers – a perfect complement to the beef.

Like with all steak, I prefer mine medium rare – an internal temperature of about 125 degrees. I achieve that here by doing something counter intuitive – cook it low and slow. You almost want to cook the tenderloin roast as a prime rib, slowly, in order to achieve an even doneness throughout the meat. If the oven is cranked up to 400 degrees, it won’t be a good medium rare. Served with some roasted potatoes, this dish will take any ordinary steak menu and elevate it up to the level of Higher Learning!

Roasted Filet Mignon with Ancho-Red Pepper Sauce (serves 4)
(Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook)

For the filet:
1 2 lb tenderloin roast, left whole
2 T fresh chopped rosemary
2 T fresh chopped thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 T prepared horseradish
2 T dijon mustard

For the sauce:
5 tablespoons canola oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 (14.5 oz) cans plum tomatoes and juices
3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 ancho chiles, soaked, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Get started on the filet first. Combine the rosemary, thyme, garlic, horseradish, mustard, and a few cranks of black pepper. Rub all over the filet and then season the filet with salt. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and cook in the oven until the roast hits an internal temperature of 120 degrees. Take the roast out of the oven and let rest, covered in foil, for about 15 minutes. This ensures the juices redistribute in the meat and keep it moist. At this time, the roast will continue to cook and get to that perfect 125 temperature we are looking for.

In the meantime, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, red peppers, and anchos and cook until the tomatoes soften and break down and the liquid thickens, 20 to 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth. Add the vinegar, honey, and chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and pulse a few times just to combine. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as necessary.

If your roast still needs to get that great crust (and it might because we cooked it at such a low temperature), get a really heavy cast iron pan over high heat. Add some butter and when it is almost smoking, sear the filet. Since you are just searing, you aren’t going to cook it past it’s perfect temperature. Cook it for about 30 seconds on each side until it gets that great crust and carve away.

When ready to serve, put some sauce on the plate. Carve the roast into slices and give everyone as much as they want! Garnish with chives and some extra virgin olive oil.
*Note: If you want those fancy cubes I have, I just the roast into 4 steaks. Then I made the “circle” into a “square” by cutting off a little bit of each side. Those scraps are great for a sandwich the next day!

Hope you all enjoy this installment of Higher Learning! I look forward to bringing you some great recipes that will both challenge your culinary curiosity and take you on some amazing epicurean adventures!



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