Today, for the first time since I became a full time student, I decided to cook some proper gourmet food that I would actually enjoy. I'm not a fan of cooking for myself, but with school being out for the winter, I wanted to celebrate - if even by myself. But I still didn't feel like putting too much work into that meal, so I made bacon-wrapped filet mignon with herb-tossed, roasted baby gourmet Klondike potatoes, steak tomatoes and feta cheese and pickled jalapenos. Sounds like a lot of work? Not really. Totally unconventional and totally me.
Just so you know, the filet mignon is referred to in France as the filet de boeuf, since the filet mignon refers to pork, not beef. It is the most tender and therefore, most expensive cut of beef. When buying a filet mignon cut, look for the lighter colored cuts rather than the dark ones. The lighter cut indicates more 'marbling', which will make it more tender.
I wrapped my filet mignon in bacon - it doesn't just taste great (anything with bacon does, unfortunately) - but it also keeps the meat moist. This is called 'barding'. I pan seared it on high heat for a few minutes each side to seal in the juices and sprinkled it with salt and pepper and popped it into the oven at 375 for 15 minutes to finish cooking through. Because it's such a tender cut, it's best to cook it just to medium-rare. The longer you cook it, the tougher it will get and it will also become dry. It's a good idea to use the touch method to test for done-ness instead of cutting it, as that will make the juices run out and make you lose both flavor and moisture. I use the SBF method. If when you press a finger into the meat it is:
- Soft and doesn't bounce back: It is rare.
- Bouncy, but still soft: It is medium rare.
- Firm: It is overcooked.
For the roasted potatoes, I halved each potato and parboiled them - taking them off the heat right after it came to a boil. I tossed the potatoes in butter and extra virgin olive oil (you can skip the butter, if you like) and a mixture of kosher salt, Tuscan herbs and I had to add my favorite cilantro and freshly ground black peppercorns. I spread the well-oiled potatoes in a single layer in a baking dish for about 20 minutes until they became firm, but crispy on the outside.
While themeat and potatoes were in the oven, I sliced the steak tomatoes cross-wise, sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil. This is a different take on your traditional capri salad, so there was no mozzarella cheese or basil. So maybe not even a modified capri salad at all.
When everything came together, it smelled scrumptious and I couldn't wait to dig in - but not before I poured myself a glass of fine Cabernet Sauvignon! This would also have worked with some good Bordeaux, but I just happened to have a bottle of Cab.
With the fist mouthful, I was in epicurean heaven! All the layers of flavors were just delightful. The meat was tender and juicy, the tomatoes were so refreshingly different, and offered a great contrast to the feta cheese and the jalapenos. Yum! I can still taste the phantom flavors as I write this....It was well worth the effort.
So go ahead, try it and let me know how it turns out! Buon appetito!