Filet mignon, or tenderloin, is the most tender cut of beef -- but it's not heavy on flavor. To compensate, this recipe calls for pan-roasting the filet and basting frequently, so it forms a thick, flavorful crust. A rich Madeira sauce is made from the pan drippings.
- 4 (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) center-cut tenderloin fillets, 2 1/2 inches thick
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, half of it kept cold and cut into cubes
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1/4 cup Madeira
- 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
Remove the filets from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the filets and sear 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the rosemary and thyme sprigs to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook an additional-- minutes for rare, 18 minutes for medium-rare and 20 minutes for medium, depending on the thickness of the filets. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat should register 125 to 130 degrees for rare,--0 degrees for medium-rare and--5 degrees for medium.)
While the steaks are cooking, baste continually with the butter-oil mixture in the pan, taking care not to let the butter brown. Transfer to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep the filets warm.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the Madeira and cook, scraping up any flavorful bits that are stuck to the pan. Add the stock or broth, increase the heat to high and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by three-quarters and is lightly thickened and nicely flavored.
Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the herbs and shallots. Return the sauce to the pan over medium-low heat and whisk in the mustard, then the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cube at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve each filet on a warmed dinner plate with some sauce spooned over it.
Adapted from "Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures" (William Morrow, 2004)
Tested by Candy Sagon.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.