I think I’d get married all over again, several times a year, just so that this exquisitely special “anniversary dinner” could be enjoyed a little more often! (Is that bad??) But it’s just that good. BETTER than I’ve had in restaurants. And this is the classic way to make filet mignon that’s simple, easy, and comes out perfect every single time. Though I’ve seen “similar” recipes posted on Pinterest, this is the same exact way I was also taught by a real Chef many, many years ago, and the version I’ve been making for more than 25 years.
The key to perfection though, is a well-seasoned cast iron pan. I LOVE my pan and it’s MUCH easier to take care of than you would think. Rules of thumb to clean … NO SOAP … VERY hot water … and salt to magically scrub out anything that stuck or crusted on. Then always dry thoroughly, and wipe with a little bit of vegetable or canola oil. (*Don’t use olive oil as it will go rancid quickly.) And that’s all there is to the maintenance, which seems to be the main gripe. Once it’s seasoned, (slow-baked in the oven according to the manufacturers directions, and cooked in several times with a fattier food such as bacon and sausage), you have a pan that will outlast you AND your grandkids, and could not be a better pan to cook in for anything! The more you use it, the better it gets! And if it’s well-seasoned and well taken care of, food will not stick. It holds the heat evenly like none other, which makes it IDEAL for baking in as well! Baked German pancakes, fluffy baked omelets, cornbreads, casseroles, cakes, regular breads, crisps, pies and cobblers, you name it – – it’ll do the job beautifully. *And, you can even use it for outdoor cooking on the grill be it gas, charcoal or an open campfire. I know, right? So if you’re afraid of cast iron, you’re really missing out BIG time! They’re AWESOME and easy to clean. Easiest pan I have to clean of all, actually!
So I’d ask Santa for one if you don’t already own one, because this dish is something that just plain comes out best when cooked in one. Honestly, I hate ordering steaks in restaurants no matter how fancy it is, because I know that I can do it for a FRACTION of the cost at home and NO restaurant compares, I don’t care who you are. I have never had better and filet mignon is my most favorite – – last meal before I die – – dinner request!! (And cheesecake for dessert…but that’s a whole ‘nother story!!)
If you don’t already have a cast iron pan, you’ll need something that has a decent, thick, heavy bottom, is oven-proof, and a pan that you love and trust! (We all have our favorites!) It will also work, but the main thing is, that it cooks evenly, can handle a high temperature without burning anything, and can go into the oven. Searing the outside, then popping into the oven “to finish” is the whole key to making the best steaks you’ve ever tasted.
Uhhmm, yep!!! Perfection – – every – – single time! What do you think? 😉
And that’s just a small sliver of a slice off of the very end!! It’s perfect ALL the way through evenly, not just the very middle of the center of the cut. And so, so easy to do!
(Sorry the pics aren’t so great! I took them at night and I’m not very good at that yet!)
If you’re like me, and KNOW you can make things better than the over-priced, crowded, LOUD, badly-staffed restaurant up the street, then just do as I have come to enjoy doing as well! Make a fancy dinner at home! It truly isn’t hard, and so very much better! *And get to know your butcher! He/she will be more than happy to help you with anything you want! (The butcher at our local grocery store is going to get a very nice basket of homemade cookies!) 😉
I hope this is one you save and enjoy for years, and graces your table for birthdays, holidays, special events, and anniversaries of your own, too! Enjoy, and have a most wonderful day! 🙂
- For Compound Butter:
- ½ stick real butter, softened
- ½ tsp. fresh minced garlic
- ½ tsp. dried parsley, or 2 tsp. fresh finely minced
- ½ tsp. dried thyme, crushed between your fingers and thumb to release flavor
- ⅛ tsp. dried Herbs de Provence, crushed as above
- Rest of ingredients:
- 2 (2 inch thick) filet mignons, ½ - 1 lb. each (*only the thickness matters per time and temp.)
- 1 Tbl. coarse Kosher salt
- 1 Tbl. coarse ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbl. good vegetable, peanut or canola oil, (or any oil that has a high smoking point) *olive oil is not a good choice for this
- ½ stick real butter
- In a small bowl, using a small spoon mix together the compound butter ingredients until well and evenly combined. Spoon onto a piece of plastic wrap, and roll into a 2" long, fat log. Wrap tightly and place into the fridge to chill.
- Remove filets from fridge to come to room temp. (30 minutes at least.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In very small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper and garlic powder well.
- Coat filets heavily with salt mixture on tops and bottoms, and lightly on sides. Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Turn over halfway through time. (*Use less if making smaller filets.)
- Add oil and butter to cast iron skillet and get it very hot over high heat, "screamin' hot" as Rachael Ray says! As soon as it's bubbling really well, place filets into the pan and don't move them. Let them brown and caramelize on the bottom for about 3 minutes if 2" thick. While they are browning, continually baste them with the browning butter, stirring the butter as it browns. This will be hot doing, so be prepared to switch hands back and forth so you don't burn yourself. After 3 minutes and a nice brown crust has formed on the bottom, turn and repeat, constantly basting with the browned butter sauce in the pan.
- After 3 minutes per side to sear, brown and caramelize, pop the whole pan into the preheated 400 degree oven for 7 minutes. When there are 3 minutes left, turn over with tongs.
- When there's one minute left, slice butter log in half and place a half on top of each filet and continue to bake for the last minute. *The butter won't melt all over the place. It will just soften if you use good butter.
- *Let rest at least 3-4 minutes. 5 minutes all the better to let the juices inside stop sizzling and run out when you go to slice a piece. Let them rest and nestle back in keeping the meat nice and juicy. 😉
- I served these with decked-out baked potatoes and salad. Rolls, and a secondary side, can always be added, but not necessarily needed.