When Hubby and I were first married, back in the stone age, he was (and still is) a big fan of Porterhouse steak. I adored Filet Mignon. What Hubby didn’t realize was that his beloved “tender side” of a Porterhouse is, in reality, a small sampling of beef tenderloin. And steaks cut strictly from the tip of the tenderloin are sold as Filet Mignon.
Filet Mignon is best known for its superior tenderness and should NEVER be overcooked. Unlike other cuts of steak, Filet Mignon has almost no fat, and therefore cannot be forgiving if overcooked. If you like your steak more to the medium to well side, stay away from Filet Mignon. What makes Filet Mignon so tender is also why it has less flavor on its own than other cuts of beef – the tenderloin is a non-weight bearing muscle, rendering it more tender, less marbled and therefore less flavorful. This also makes it a perfect cut of beef for wonderful sauces such as a Béarnaise, peppercorn or wine reduction sauces.
The best wine reduction sauces often include the use of a demi-glaze. If you are feeling very ambitious, you could make your own demi-glaze. And if you do, my hat is off to you! You can purchase demi-glaze. Specialty stores such as William-Sonoma. It can be rather expensive when you break it down. While a true demi-glaze, be it home-made or store-bought is far superior, a convenient and cheap alternative is Swanson’s Beef Flavor Booster – it’s a little packet of concentrated broth, super thick and slightly salty. Crazy, huh? I’ve heard tell Beef Consomme, undiluted, can serve as a replacement for demi-glaze. Personally, I’ve never tried that, opting for the convenience of Swanson’s Beef Flavor Booster instead.
While this isn’t a dish I would serve every day, for special occasions or a romantic evening at home, it’s simply divine!
I like to serve this with Grilled Asparagus with a Tarragon Cream Sauce and Garlic Mashed Potatoes with a Twist just to keep the whole Tarragon-Garlic thing going throughout the meal. It also goes well with a side of New Potato and steamed green beans or something as simple as a green salad and a nice bottle of wine. Oh what the heck, have the wine no matter how you serve the Filet Mignon!
Filet Mignon in a Red Wine Reduction Sauce with Tarragon-Garlic Butter
½ Cup Butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
Make the Tarragon-Garlic Butter: Combine butter, garlic and tarragon. Refrigerate until semi-firm. Remove from refrigerator, form into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Butter can be made several days ahead. The longer the butter matures, the more complex the flavors.
4 Filet Mignon, about 1-½-2 inches thick
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
3 Garlic Cloves, pressed
½ Cup Red Wine
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Season Filet Mignon with salt and pepper. Rub with garlic. Mix together 1/2 cup wine and balsamic vinegar. Pour over steaks.
Let steaks sit for 20 minutes, turning once. While filets “rest” build a nice fire for grilling the steaks.
Grill Steaks over a hot fire until medium-rare, about 5 minutes. Remove from grill.
Slice butter log into 4 rounds. Place one round on each steak. Tent to keep warm, allow to rest for 5-10 minutes while the butter melts and the steaks retain their succulent juices.
Red Wine Reduction Sauce
1 Cup Full Bodied Red Wine
2 Small Onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons Beef Demi-Glaze*
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 large Portobello mushroom, stem removed, sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Butter, chilled
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Start the sauce at about the same time the filets are placed on the grill. Peel and finely chop onions, set aside until ready to use. Slice mushroom, set aside until ready to use.
Combine 1 cup wine, onions, demi-glaze, thyme and bay leaf in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until reduced to 3-4 tablespoons, about 10 minutes.
While sauce is reducing, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan. Sauté mushrooms until tender and juices released, about 8 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the wine sauce has reduced and thickened, remove from heat. Whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until smooth and well blended. Add sautéed mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
* Demi-glaze is a royal pain – it requires a brown stock made from the roasted bones veal and choice beef, combined with a true brown sauce (one of the Mother Sauces in French Cuisine). You can purchase Demi-Glaze from specialty stores for about $20-30 dollars for a 9 oz jar. Or, as I did in this recipe, use a packet of Swanson’s Beef Flavor Boost.
To Serve Filet Mignon:
Spoon reduction sauce onto individual warm plates. Place filet mignon on top of sauce. Serve at once.