Filet Mignon with Mushroom Shallot Butter

Amanda and I have made no effort to hide our love of Masterchef, and when the contestants were taught to break down a large piece of meat, we were inspired. Amanda and I wanted to try our hand at breaking down a large cut into smaller, more presentable portions. In my case, I had done this before with a whole beef tenderloin (also called a PiSMO) and so I thought I would share.

Whole Tenderloin, because they require less processing, are usually a pretty economical choice considering that this one of the most prized parts of the cow. They are generally vacuum packed and sold at a much lower rate per pound than their individually packaged counterparts. Since there is a lot of meat in one of those packages, the overall cost might still be high. However, considering I have usually managed to get 8-10 dinners out of one piece, it still works out to be a great deal.

After breaking everything down, obviously the best reward would be to cook one of these newly trimmed filets up for yourself. Combined with the mushroom shallot butter recipe below and a glass of wine, I think you’re in for a good night after hauling that hunk of beef home from the store.

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Breaking down a whole (or half in my case) Beef Tenderloin: 

  1. Pull the initial layer of fat off the tenderloin. You may need a knife to get an initial tear in the fat started, but once you get your fingers under this layer, you should be largely able to remove with your hands.
  2. With the fat removed, you should be able to make out three parts of the meat. The actual tenderloin is the long, circular portion in the middle. On one side will the “Chain”which is the smaller, longer piece. On the other side, is a wide, thick portion much shorter than the tenderloin. Remove the pieces on either side of the tenderloin and reserve for recipes of your choice. The chain makes excellent stir fry meat and the other portion is also great as a roast!
  3. Now that the tenderloin is trimmed, you should be able to see a layer of “silverskin” on some of the meat. This must be removed as it does not render like other fat. To remove, stick the tip of your knife under a small piece. Once you can get your finger under the silverskin, lift the skin with one hand and peel it off the meat, using your knife when needed. This part can be a bit tricky, but continue to peel off the silverskin in strips this way until all is removed. IMG_3028
  4. Now the tenderloin is ready to be portioned. You can keep it whole if you’d like, but I usually like to cut some of it into filets. Slice into 2″ portions. The end with the taper can be butterflied into a filet if you would like or you can save that end as a roast if you want to leave that portion a little thicker.
  5. I like to freeze the extra meat in freezer bags individually so I can pull them out whenever I’m craving some steak for dinner. Portions can stay in the freezer for up to 4 months.

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Filet with Mushroom Butter: 

Mushroom butter Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb baby Portobello mushrooms or mushrooms of your choice, minced.
  • 1 small shallot, minced.
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

 

Instructions: 

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cook the mushrooms and shallots until the mushrooms have released their moisture and reduced size, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired during cooking.  When finished, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Once cooled, add the stick of butter to a stand mixer and add your mushroom/shallot mixture and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until everything is distributed.
  4. Spoon the butter mixture onto the middle of a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the paper in half over the butter, gently. Using a sheet pan and starting at the end where the paper corners meet, slowly slide the pan down and toward the butter so that elongates into a tube. Once this is completed, you can roll the leftover parchment around the butter and twist the ends. Chill the butter for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to 5 days in advance, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

  1. When you are ready to make your steaks, remove them from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 450°F and stick in a cast iron pan.
  2. Once the oven and pan are preheated, (carefully) move the cast iron pan to the stove top and heat over medium-high. Liberally salt and pepper your steaks and sear in the hot pan for 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Add a pat of the mushroom butter to the tops of the steaks and transfer the pan to the oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium rare. This should be about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow steaks to rest on a cooling rack loosely draped with foil for 10 minutes. Top with an additional pat of butter and serve. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairing: A Burgundy or a really bold Pinot Noir would be a great match with both the mushroomy undertones that the butter brings as well as the beef. Happy cooking!

Beef, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

The slow cooked meal is such a wonderful convenience in all seasons. While at first thought, it seems that it is best served during the winter months as the slow cooker rewards you with hearty stews and belly-warming chilis, it can definitely be a summer blessing as well. An oven or even a simmering pot on the stove can make the kitchen uncomfortably warm on an already warm day, and a slow cooker silently cooking away in the corner is an excellent alternative to using your kitchen towels to wipe sweat from your brows every two minutes.

This week, Amanda and I wanted to go low maintenance. I had some obligations on the day of our skype date so a set-it-and-forget-it recipe was just what the doctor ordered.  Since it was an unseasonably cold day, I did opt for a heartier beef soup but it could easily be enjoyed during warm weather as well. As stated above, the reduced use of heat emanating appliances would definitely make me more receptive to a soup in the middle of July for sure. Regardless, this soup was tasty, easy and made plenty of leftovers for weekday lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch chunks.
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, I used baby bellas but you could branch out with varieties.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick clices.
  • 1 onion, diced.
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions (I know. See if you can keep up with me here):

  1. If desired (and you will be rewarded in flavor), brown the beef over medium heat before adding to the slow cooker. However, if you’re like me and and feel that the point of the slow cooker is not to dirty any other pans, add all ingredients to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread or however you would like!

Wine Pairing: The umami flavor of the mushrooms and the rich beefy taste can stand up to a full bodied red like a syrah, which would warm the belly and bring even more comfort to a dinner with this soup. 

Beef and Beet Tajine

I got a lot of cookbooks over the holidays. A lot. Also some cool flavored vinegars, and food from the places that my family has traveled recently! The gift that came the farthest, though, was a tajine from Tunisia! Tajine (or tagines) are a traditional North African/Middle Eastern roasting pan with a conical top that keeps in the steam. I love it! This was the second dish that I made in my new pan and it makes my dishes taste more special.

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Merideth also received a new cooking toy for Christmas- a pressure cooker! Since we haven’t done a Distance Dishes dinner using the same recipe for a while, we decided to see the differences that our two new cooking methods would make on the same meal. We had a slight difference in ingredients too, depending on what we had on hand or available in our two hometowns. Delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbs oil and 1 pat butter (or 2 tbs ghee)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 1-2 tsp red chile powder, to taste (or 1 red chile, chopped)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbs cinnamon (or 2 cinnamon sticks)
  • 1 lb lean beef, cut into chunks
  • 2 oranges, cut into segments and peeled
  • 2-3 tbs shelled pistachios
  • 1 tbs rosewater or orange flower water
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions (Tajine)

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in the bottom dish. Add garlic, ginger, and chopped onion and saute until onion is translucent.
  2. Add chili, coriander, and cinnamon and stir. Add beets and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add beef and saute until edges are browned, about 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover with tajine lid, lower heat, and simmer for an hour.
  5. After an hour, add orange segments, rosewater, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 15 minutes and top with pistachios.

Instructions (Electric Pressure Cooker)

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in the bottom of the pot using the saute/brown function. Add garlic, ginger and chopped onion and saute until onion and translucent and mixture is fragrant.
  2. Add chili, coriander, and cinnamon and stir. Add beets and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove this mixture temporarily from the pressure cooker and add the beef. Still using the saute/brown function, brown the beef for 3-4 minutes and then re-add the previously removed ingredients.
  4. Add about 3/4 of a cup of water or broth to the pot and add the oranges and rosewater/orange flower water.
  5. Set your pressure cooker to high pressure for 20 minutes and allow the steam to release naturally. Once the cooker is safe to open, serve over couscous, or some yummy Herb Saffron Rice and top with pistachios.

Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon and other dark red wines are usually the go-to for beef dishes. In this case, I really liked a Syrah/Shiraz for its smoky and stronger fruit flavors to go with the roasted meat and sweet fruit and beets.

Summer Dishes: Liquid Smoke Marinated Steak

Welcome to summer! Unfortunately, my condo complex doesn’t have a grill area and the one time that I tried to use a portable grill on my balcony I may have used too much self-lighting charcoal. For the a grill taste without compromising the safety of my patio furniture, I decided to put my steak in a liquid smoke marinade.Liquid smoke is a natural additive made from water infused with hickory smoke. You can find it in most grocery stores near the barbecue sauce. Its also good in slow-cooked chilis!

Why marinate?

Though marinating meat can also tenderize, the main purpose of marinades are to add flavor. Typically, they are composed of an acid  + an oil + flavorings. Acids can be vinegar, wine, juice, or even yogurt (like in Chicken Tikka Masala). More on marinades to come in another post!

Ingredients

2 rib eye steaks (one serving is approximately one lb.)

2 tbs canola oil

4 tbs butter (optional)

Marinade:

3 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tbs soy sauce

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs honey

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/4 tbs ground ginger

Ground pepper

 

Instructions:

  1. Combine marinade ingredients and add to steaks in large Ziploc bag. Chill in fridge for at least four hours or overnight.
  2. Once done marinading, remove steaks from bag onto a cutting board and discard marinade.
  3. Pat steaks dry with paper towel. This allows for the steak to better sear in the pan.
  4. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. I use a non-stick skiller, but cast iron pans are the “ideal”.
  5. Once oil is heated, lay steak in pan (away from you!). A minute or two in, I usually add a tablespoon or two of butter (yum!) Cook according to preferred temperature (see table below.)
  6. Flip steak after desired time has passed. Tongs work best for keeping the juices in the steak (and not flopping your steak out of the pan in the process). If desired, add more butter.
  7. Remove steak from pan and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cooking Times for Temperature:

Rare (1-2 minutes on each side)

Medium Rare (2-3 minutes on each side)

Medium (3-4 minutes on each side)

Medium Well (5 minutes on each side)

Well Done (6 minutes on each side)

 

Side Dishes: In keeping with the summery theme, I boiled some corn on the cob. This is a pretty low-maintenance but delicious side dish, with the corn being boiled for about 10 minutes. I also had watermelon salad with goat cheese. I think feta would be better next time, since the cheese crumbles better!

Wine Pairing: Between the richness of the steak flavors, liquid smoke seasoning, and the char that comes from the pan-frying process, a bold red worked best. I had a Malbec from my local winery, made with grapes from Oregon. Malbec has more fruit flavors than another bold red like a Cabernet, but with the same smoky, tannin taste that pairs well with steak and other grilled foods!