Happy Cinco de Mayo!
And Happy Birthday to me! Yep – today’s my birthday, and it’s a milestone too. Mom can you believe your oldest daughter is 30 today?
Even though I love, love, love Mexican food, I often don’t eat it on my birthday. I can’t stand going out for Mexican on my birthday because everyone else in the Twin Cities seems to want to celebrate with me by eating at Mexican restaurants and drinking too much tequila and we can never get table. And growing up we didn’t have a Mexican restaurant in Ely and the only Mexican-y food we made was tacos. So this post is going to be about my birthday and my favorite food.
I always asked my dad to grill steaks for me on my birthday. The sides would change, for a while I was on a kick for buttered egg noodles with parmesan, but always, always the entrée was steak. And it HAS to be medium-rare, the biggest cooking sin in my mind is overcooking a good piece of beef.
So in honor of my favorite birthday meal, I want to show you how to make the PERFECT filet mignon.
I’ve always struggled to make filet mignon or other really thick steaks. By the time I get the middle to a perfect medium rare there is always a thick band of gray overcooked meat on the top and bottom. Want to know the secret to avoiding this? Bake the steak and then sear it. Yes, that’s what I said – it seems backwards from the standard sear and finish in the oven method, and my beloved charcoal grill is nowhere in sight, but I swear this method will give you perfect steaks every time. America’s Test Kitchen, The Science of Good Cooking explains why this method works. When you sear a steak the outer edges quickly climb in temperature but the heat doesn’t reach the middle as quickly, leaving you with an overcooked outside and undercooked middle. Baking the steaks first in a relatively cool oven allows the entire steak to slowly and more evenly rise in temperature and then searing at the end allows you to get that great crust on the outside. See how perfect that’s cooked!
If you like your steak a little more well done – like medium, I’ll tell you how to do that too, but this is perfect for me.
We topped our steak with blue cheese and served it along with a side of glazed pears with bacon. Turns a steak supper into a relatively light dinner.
Here’s what you need:
Start by taking the steaks out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper and set them on a rack over a cookie sheet covered with foil.
Now here is the secret to the perfect steaks – you’re going to use a probe thermometer (like this Remote Cooking Thermometer) so you can take them out of the oven when they are exactly the temperature you want.
Bake the steaks until they register 90-95 degrees for medium-rare. Go up to 100-105 for medium. I don’t believe in cooking beef beyond medium so if you want medium well, you’ll have to figure that part out on your own. We cook ours to 90 degrees and it takes about 20-25 minutes.
Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet until it is screaming hot and the oil begins to smoke. Sear the steaks on both sides until a nice crust develops, about 1- 2 minutes per side.
Remove the steaks from the pan, top with blue cheese and tent with foil. It’s very important to let the steaks rest for about 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute. This is just the right amount of time to whip up the pears.
Cut the pears into about half inch pieces.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pears, vanilla and brown sugar.
Cook until the pears begin to soften and the brown sugar forms a bit of a glaze over the pears.
Turn off the heat and stir in the bacon.
Serve the pears alongside that perfect steak you have resting.
Doesn’t that look perfect? No gray –all a nice even medium-rare.
A perfect birthday dinner that is quick and easy enough to make on a weeknight.
- 2 – 6 oz filet mignons, 1-1/2 inches thick
- Canola or coconut oil
- 2-3 T crumbled blue cheese
- 2 red pears, cut into ½ inch chunks
- 1 T butter
- 1 T brown sugar
- Splash vanilla
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Pull the steaks out of the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on top.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the steaks and place on the wire rack. Insert a probe thermometer into the middle of one of the steaks. Bake until the probe registers 90-95 degrees for medium-rare (about 20-25 minutes) or 100 degrees for medium. Remove the steaks from the oven.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until the oil smokes. Add the steaks and sear until a nice crust develops on each side, about 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from pan. Top with the blue cheese and cover with foil. Allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pears. Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pears, brown sugar and vanilla. Cook until the pears begin to soften and the sugar forms a glaze, about 7-8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the bacon.
- Serve the pears with the steaks.