Filet with Bearnaise Sauce, Kitchenette Syle
I cannot believe I let October slip by without telling you guys about this recipe. I wanted to share one last bit from our anniversary dinner, which also happens to be another Adventure in Tenderloin, before the month was out and then all of a sudden it was gone.
But no matter, this one is a year-round pleaser, even if it’s a little fussy.
Okay, maybe more than a little fussy. And most certainly not health food. But that’s part of what makes filet mignon with sauce Bearnaise a special occasion dinner item.
Plus while fussy, it’s not time consuming. In fact, once the ingredients are prepped, you can literally whip up this sauce while cooking your steaks. That’s also a good dinner plan, since bearnaise can be a pain to keep warm for extended periods of time.
I know a lot of famous chefs about Blender Bearnaise recipes out there, but to be honest with you, I’ve never had one turn out right for me. I’m sure sometimes it’s been a matter of operator error (our blender can be a little cantankerous), but I think a lot of it has to do with temperature control, and in a blender you just don’t have any. So I prefer to kick it old school, or I guess in this case, whisk it old school.
Don’t be intimidated by what you may have heard about bearnaise or its mother sauce, hollandaise. There are old cookbooks that say things about how professional chefs can spend a lifetime perfecting their emulsion sauce technique. That may be true but there’s no reason you can’t manage a bearnaise worth eating after a few tries, or even on your first try! Patience is the key, patience and constant whisking to be transform a few simple ingredients into a transporting sauce to dress up your home-butchered filet.
Filet with Bearnaise, a la Kitchenette
While it adds a few extra steps, making a tarragon, vinegar and wine reduction with aromatics means not having to hunt down an entire bottle of tarragon vinegar just for one recipe. As a bonus, I think it results in a more flavorful sauce. If you have one, a double boiler is perfect for step 4, but if you don’t have one or don’t have room to store one, the trusty pot-and-bowl method works equally well.
2 filet mignon steaks, each about 2 inches thick, at room temperature
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
3 Tablespoons roughly chopped tarragon leaves, divided
8 whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick + 2 Tablespoons), plus 1 Tablespoon, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, with a rack in the middle position. Over medium high heat, melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a large heavy, ovenproof skillet.
Season steaks liberally with salt and pepper and place in hot pan until well seared, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear for 3 minutes on other side. Transfer to oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes or until the steaks are cooked medium-rare. Tent loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a simmer vinegar, wine, shallots, 2 Tablespoons tarragon leaves, peppercorns. Simmer uncovered until reduced by 2/3, about 8 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid.
Melt the butter (skim the foamy milk solids off the top of the melted butter, if you are particularly industrious).
Whisk the egg yolks in the top of a double boiler, or a large aluminum or glass bowl.
Bring a few inches of water to a bare simmer in double boiler or a large saucepan. Place the bowl of egg yolks over the saucepan (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and whisk continuously until the egg yolks begin to thicken and turn pale, about 4 minutes (you may have to move the bowl on and off the simmering water or drop the temperature on the water slightly to avoid scrambling the eggs; a little patience goes a long way here).
Remove the bowl from the heat, and slowly whisk in the butter, a little at first and then pouring in a slow stream, whisking all the while. As the butter is incorporated, the mixture will thicken almost to the consistency of mayonnaise.
Return bowl to heat and whisk in reserved vinegar mixture and salt. Off the heat, stir in remaining Tablespoon chopped tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm over steak.