Like my favorite weatherman around here always says:”It’s Friday Night in the Big Town!”….Many Fridays I can’t seem to get my act together to cook an actual meal. For those of you who have children, you know only too well the exhaustion that an average overscheduled week brings. We work hard to not overschedule our lives, but in spite of that, there’s always a sigh of relief when we’ve made it to 4 pm on Friday afternoon.
Today, after picking up the girls from school, we stopped in at the grocery store for a few essentials, and I ended up splurging on a nice Bordeaux and a single beef tenderloin filet. While those types of beef are typically purchased only on very special occasions, picking up one for a happy hour nosh seems much more justifiable. It was well worth it. We put together a quick cheese plate with some Asian Pears from a neighbor’s tree- yes we’re still getting a few stragglers in the summer produce department- and the beef tenderloin was simply seared in brown butter with black pepper and shallots spread on a bed of fresh greens. Too late I recalled an awesome post I read by fellow blogger Lazaro about cooking beef backwards- starting it in the oven and finishing with a sear on the stove. It looks amazing, and if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, I recommend giving it a whirl. Additionally, his blog is extremely entertaining and always makes me laugh. I will definitely have to do a better job remembering that technique next time I cook up a bit of beef. At any rate, we noshed our way through the dinner hour listening to my husband play the guitar (lucky me, I get to enjoy classical guitar music while I cook!) and the big girl finished it off by creating a simple salad. Nice way to spend a Friday evening, if I do say so myself.
Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin
about 8-9 little slices
1 cut of beef tenderloin filet- about 8 oz..
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter, + an additional 2 tbs during the cooking (I used salted butter)
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 tbs crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup mixed greens
salt and fresh cracked pepper
Pat your beef dry with a paper towel and press freshly cracked black pepper into one side. In a heavy skillet (I use my trusty cast-iron ) heat oil and butter over medium high until butter has foamed. Place beef in skillet, pepper side down. As butter starts to brown, take a spoon and scoop up the butter, pouring it over the beef. This helps keep the butter from scorching. You’ll notice that the oil does reduce. Add in a 1/2 tablespoon of fresh butter. This will also help regulate the butter temperature so that it doesn’t burn.
After about 4 minutes, flip the beef. The bottom should have a nice crusty sear on it. Add more butter to the pan and continue to spoon the hot butter over the beef. (Continue adding 1/2 tablespoons of butter as needed, to keep the pan from drying out, and to keep the butter from burning) After about 4 minutes add the shallots. Stir quickly. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes, using your tongs or spatula to stir the shallots. To test the meat for doneness, press a little on the beef. It should give a little bit. I tend to overcook my meat in the effort to make sure that the animal I’m consuming is really dead. I find that if I pull the meat off a minute or two before I think it’s done, I tend to hit it just right. Remember, when the meat is resting, the internal temperature can still rise. Ideally, for beef, you want an internal temperature of 150-155 ( that is brown on the outside, rosy pink- not bloody on the inside) for a cut like a tenderloin filet, that temperature really showcases the texture and flavor of the meat. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the meat to a plate that has been covered with fresh greens. The heat from the meat will wilt the greens.
Allow the beef to rest for about 5 minutes. Next, slice thinly against the grain (so that the lines of the muscle go up and down, not side to side) Take a tiny pinch of sea salt and gently sprinkle a bit on each slice. You don’t need much, a few grains on each, but the salt really brings out the flavor of the beef. Spoon the cooked and now carmelized shallots over the beef, and top with a line of bleu cheese crumbles. Lasty, measure about a quarter teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a soup spoon, and lightly drizzle over the bleu cheese/shallot mixture. Again, you don’t need much. I had originally intended to use a balsamic reduction, which I love, but I didn’t have enough vinegar to make that happen- however a tiny bit of regular vinegar helps brighten the flavor and is a great compliment to the richness of the beef and bleu cheese. Serve with a plate of your favorite happy hour cheeses and finger foods. We enjoyed asian pears, bleu cheese, domestic parmesan, chevre and the best cracker ever- Mary’s Gone Crackers. Oh yes, and don’t forget the wine!