The filet mignon has been served since the 17th century in the United States as a medallion of tenderloin steak. In 1906 it was named the filet mignon and was featured in William Sydney Porter’s “The Four Million” as an opulent cut afforded only to the wealthy.
Of course, this hubbub only served to make the filet mignon more coveted, further cementing its place on the dinner tables of the affluent for decades to come.
Today, filet mignon cuts vary in price depending where you are, and while not entirely unaffordable, restaurant filets can be quite pricey. With National Filet Mignon Day right around the corner on August 13th, we invite you to join us in learning how to prepare a filet properly at home with Chef Mel AKA The Happy Chef – complete with sexy sauce of course.
Reliable Steak Done the Easy Way
“Whether you are having a dinner party or a romantic evening for two, you want to make a reliable dish that doesn’t have you stressed or needing to pause for a cocktail sip every 5 minutes,” said Chef Mel. “A filet mignon with mushroom sauce is perfect.”
You will need:
- Beautiful medallions of beef
- Porcini mushroom powder or fresh porcini mushrooms
- Herbs: Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, or Tarragon
- Dairy cream
- Butchers twine
- Griddle pan
“I have a mushroom dust in my product line that is great to have on hand for making soups and sauces, but freshly chopped porcini mushrooms work great too,” said The Happy Chef.
Get Fancy Before You Even Start!
This recipe is very quick to make; you can grill the steaks while your guests chat over cocktails or a gorgeous cheese platter. The Happy Chef recommends seasoning and herbing your filet mignons for the grill with a twist.
“One trick you can use to season your steaks is to do a salty snow crusting by putting salt in a tea strainer to shake over each steak, it gives the perfect covering,” Chef says. “You could also put crushed black peppercorns as well, but be warned that pepper in a pan creates pepper smoke which can make you cough.”
Chef Mel is all about the little touches we can do to create pizazz that make us happy and impress our friends. To bring that energy to raw filets, she bundles a dramatic sprig of fresh herbs with each one using butcher’s twine. This simple trussing adds a dimension of finesse for the glimpses guests will see as you walk out to the barbeque with them on a platter — plus adds flavor and smells like heaven.
Just be sure to cut off the string before serving!
For a medium-rare steak, Chef recommends using a high heat barbeque or stove-top griddle pan, around 113 degrees C, and lowering to about 122 degrees F for medium steak.
“If you’re not getting your pan or griddle swear-word-hot, your steaks will be gray,” said Chef Mel. “Do not over-handle your steaks while they are cooking, we want them to seal and brown beautifully…and gray steaks that you’ve poked and fiddled to death are not sexy.”
Speaking of Sexy…
Sexy might just be The Happy Chef’s favorite word, and we’re here for it.
“The sexy mushroom steak sauce only takes a couple of minutes,” Chef Mel says. “All you need to do is deglaze the same pan on which you’re cooking your steaks with dairy cream or butter, porcini mushroom dust or fresh-chopped, and stock that is already in the pan from the steaks. If you’re using your barbeque, simply make the sauce on the side in a pan”
Turn down the heat a bit to build your sexy sauce in the pan with the steaks, take them out if they are done and allow them to rest. If you seasoned your steaks before grilling, the salt has fallen into the pan, so be cautious about adding extra salt to your sauce.
“We could end up with a bad situation if we over salt, but there is a trick to fix it,” The Happy Chef explains. “If you accidentally add more salt, extend the sauce. Add more liquid to make up for the salt, or remove some sauce from the pan. Problem solved!”
It is also important to know which oils to use so that you get the Maillard Reaction which is what causes meat to brown. The Happy Chef recommends rice, canola, and other vegetable cooking oils over extra virgin olive oil because the former ones can handle the high heat.
“We need a sizzle in the pan so we get the sexy marks on the steak that you see in movies,” Chef Mel says. “For taller, thicker cuts, about 4-6 minutes per side is fine. Turn them up to 8 times, however much you think you need to get the right internal temperature.”
While you’re waiting, The Happy Chef recommends prepping the rest of the meal or grabbing another sip of your drink.
When the filet mignons are done, rest them on a plate before serving for at least 4 minutes. This is very important as they will bleed if you do not.
Finishing Touches: Making a Simple Steak 5-Star
“Often during a dinner party, if you are plating the meal, it can be a bit stressful because people are looking at you,” Chef Mel says. “You want them to think you are chef-y, under control, and calm, so what you can do is use some bells and whistles to make your plating performance look fancy.”
For example, The Happy Chef likes to pair a butterbean puree or mashed potato with her filets, and you can use a small saucer — rather than your cupped hand — to hold under the spoon when you are transferring the puree onto the plate. That way, any drips that might fall onto the counter or side of the dinner plate are caught by the saucer.
Chef Mel jokingly quips that we save about 20 years of our natural lives using a saucer instead of wiping the plate and counter, it’s all about being efficient.
Adding the puree or mash as a puddle on the plate creates a colorful piece of interest for the filet to rest on.
Again, don’t forget to cut off the cotton twine!
Steaks are never all exactly the same size, but The Happy Chef has us covered with a steak guide.
Add a ‘Signature of Freshness’ such as snow peas, steamed broccolini, or green beans. Chef Mel says we don’t want everything to be too rich and this element adds another layer.
Next, cut a sweet potato with a Julienne peeler, dress with a little oil, and pop them in your air fryer. Create an expensive-looking, sky-high pile of them on top of your filet mignon for crunch and opulence.
Finally, put some color on the plate! It helps your guests get a few more likes when they Instagram your food. Edible flowers or herbs are a great way to do this.
“This gorgeous dinner meal is super low maintenance,” The Happy Chef assures us. “You can be drinking on the job and chatting to guests and it will come out splendidly.”
About Chef Mel
Chef Mel, aka The Happy Chef, works to teach new and seasoned chefs how to be happy in their kitchens again by cooking with happiness, confidence and love. Her cookbook, Culinary Quickies, won the International Book Award and was a top finalist in the United States. To learn more about booking opportunities, please visit https://chefmel.me/