Food, like music, is a sensual pleasure summoning old memories from Christmas past. I’m fantasizing a holiday dish that will complement the lush, albeit scratchy, tunes from my Bing Crosby White Christmas album. I want to re-ignite memories of old-school, piano-bar, steak-house glamour, and serve up a steak with a texture as smooth and buttery as Bing’s vocals. Only Filet Mignon will do.
Filet mignon translates from French to mean a “cute” or “dainty” tenderloin. The meat is an extremely tender, thick steak cut from the tenderloin which lacks some of the flavor of meat that has the bone attached. In order to keep the flavor, you must cook the fillet quickly.
Purchasing beef tenderloin for filet mignon is confusing. Why do the prices vary so greatly– between $5.00-$30.00 per pound? Can a $5.00# cut of beef dare call itself “tenderloin”? Wouldn’t that be akin to me changing my last name to Rockefeller?
Bob Sparrow, the owner of Sparrow Meats in Kerrytown, is not adverse to selling and cooking with the less expensive, lower-grade beef tenderloins, “As long as you marinate it or coat it with olive oil and herbs 24 hours before preparing,” he said. I might add that if you prefer your meat cooked medium or well-done, you may also consider purchasing a lower-grade cut and marinating it. A top-grade, well-marbled, prime-cut tenderloin is at its pinnacle when cooked to rare or medium-rare.
And these 2-inch thick cuts of prime tenderloin steaks are exactly what I splurged on from Bob Sparrowfor my holiday dinner: A filet served in the finest steak houses, a filet that melts in my mouth with buttery richness, only enhanced with salt, pepper and a festive wine sauce.
Knocking back a high-ball seems an appropriate complement to Bing’s White Christmas, but I will enjoy the beef with the Zinfandel I used to make the sauce. Certainly you may substitute a big Cabernet for the Zinfandel but I found the flavor of Zinfandel with the cranberries lovely. Freshly mashed, buttery potatoes with crumbled gorgonzola stirred in at the last minute is a divine complement to the fillet. I would highly recommend this side dish to complement the beef, as well as your favorite holiday tunes to usher the holidays in grand style.
Disclaimer: This is not a recipe you can whip up in 30 minutes. This is a Polish Grandmother Recipe. And anyone who is a Polish Grandmother, or anyone who has a Polish Grandmother, or anyone (like me) who lives next door to a Polish Grandmother, knows that Polish Grandmother Recipes can’t be completed in less than thirty minutes. But … Full recipe post »
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