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Thousand Oaks

Now You’re Cooking: Cooking for Love

Juicy and tender filet mignon is a perfect dinner (for two!) for Valentine’s Day. With just a few tips and techniques, you can easily make a restaurant-worthy meal in under an hour, with no hassle.

The secret to cooking perfect steak lies in combining pan searing with an oven finish. This gives your filet a caramelized exterior with a juicy, tender center.

The secret to cooking perfect steak lies in combining pan searing with an oven finish.

Using steaks that are almost the exact same size and thickness will ensure they cook evenly and finish at the same time. A cast iron skillet is recommended for this recipe. Not only does cast iron give the meat a great sear, but it also has excellent heat retention and is able to go straight from stovetop to oven.

Because filet mignon lacks fat and marbling, it’s ideal for serving with an herb butter to add moisture and flavor. First, a small amount is used to baste the steaks just prior to roasting, and the rest is added to the tops of the steaks as they rest.

PAN-SEARED FILET MIGNON WITH HERB BUTTER FOR TWO

(Makes 2 servings)

2 (6- to 8-ounce) center-cut filet mignon steaks (about 2 inches thick and 3 to 4 inches wide)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

A few fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme

Place the steaks on a paper towel-lined plate and allow them to sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the herb butter, combine butter, parsley, thyme, rosemary, garlic, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper in a bowl; mix well.

Heat a medium-size cast iron skillet or heavy-bottom oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes; the skillet should smoke just a bit when properly heated (at this point, turn on your oven vent).

Pat the filets dry with a paper towel. Rub them all over with oil; generously season all sides with salt. Add the filets to the dry skillet and sear on one side for 2 to 2 ½ minutes (look for a deep-seared crust). Flip over and cook for 2 minutes. Using tongs, hold the steaks upright and roll to sear the edges (this should take about 30 seconds).

Remove the skillet from heat. Add half the herb butter to the skillet, along with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. As the herb butter melts, spoon it over the tops of the steaks. Check the temperature of the steaks using an instant-read meat thermometer (insert into the side of the steak, not the top) before placing them in the oven because they may be close to your desired doneness. The steaks will likely only roast in the oven for fewer than 5 minutes.

With pot holders, immediately transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until desired doneness. The steaks will continue to rise in temperature about 5 degrees as they rest, so I usually aim to take the steaks out of the oven close to 120-125 degrees for medium-rare (if you prefer closer to medium, take them out of the oven closer to 130 degrees).

Remove them from the oven, baste with some of the melted herb butter from the skillet and then transfer the steaks to a platter. Top each filet with a pat of the remaining herb butter, cover loosely with foil and allow the filets to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.

Note: Cook times will vary based on the thickness and size of the filet. It’s best to use visual cues and an instant-read meat thermometer.

Crisp, roasted potatoes with a fluffy center are one of my favorite sides to pair with filet mignon. Tossed with a bit of olive oil, then seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary before roasting, they turn out perfectly every single time!

OVEN-ROASTED ROSEMARY POTATOES

(Makes 2 ½ cups, 2 to 3 servings)

  • 1 pound petite red and/or yellow-skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut the potatoes into 1- to 1 ½-inch chunks (cut small potatoes in half and larger potatoes into quarters). They should all be roughly the same size so they cook evenly. If time permits, soak the cut potatoes in cold water for at least 30 minutes (I’ve found this helps remove some of the starch and makes for a fluffier interior). Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drain the potatoes, rinse with cold water and then blot dry with a clean kitchen towel. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, drizzle with oil and then sprinkle with rosemary, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Toss really well to coat. Pour the potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast for about 25 minutes, shaking the pan to flip the potatoes (or use a spatula) halfway through roasting to ensure even browning, until golden brown and crisp. Season with additional salt and ground black pepper, if desired. 

Made with buttermilk and cocoa powder, this homemade red velvet cupcake recipe is simple and delicious! Soft and buttery with a smooth velvet crumb, this classic cupcake is perfect for Valentine’s Day or for any red velvet lover in your life.

RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

(Makes 14 cupcakes)

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
     ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature (shake before measuring)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons red food coloring (use 3 teaspoons for a more intense color)
  • ½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup canola or coconut oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
  • 4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Red or pink sprinkles (optional)

FOR CUPCAKES: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper liners (I use a 12-cavity muffin tin plus a 6-cavity tin, but only use two of the cavities in the 6-cavity tin – it’s best not to try to fit all the batter into a 12-cavity tin, or you will risk overflow).

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Whisk together buttermilk, food coloring and vinegar in a small mixing bowl.

This classic cupcake is perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl with electric hand mixer). Beat for about 2 minutes or until thoroughly combined. Beat in oil, followed by egg and vanilla extract, until incorporated.

Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in the buttermilk mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture and beat until no streaks of flour remain. Spoon batter evenly into 14 paper liners, filling ⅔ full.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: Beat cream cheese and butter together in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in powdered sugar, followed by vanilla extract. Spread or pipe over cupcakes. Decorate with candy sprinkles, if desired.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chris Garboski managed the HQ test kitchen at Nestle and produced more than a thousand recipes in her 25 years with the company. Her proudest accomplishment has been raising triplets.

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