Sunday, December 25, 2005

Red Wine Infused Filet Mignon w/ Wasabi-Caviar Laced Baked Potatoes

Pure decadence in food is breathtaking. I find many of my meals very delicious and succulent, but I will often forgo a splash of this here, or the addition of that there to make budget, and none are the wiser. (For example: My fish does not need a white wine sauce. Or: Saffron? Eh, I’ll just work around that one.) But it is holiday time breeching on New Year's so one must eat as if dining at 4-5 star restaurants is the norm, no? Especially if it is in your own home and you are the chef. Splurge on that extra this or that, it makes a difference, your tongue will thank you, your belly will flip in joy, your eyes will glimmer in delight, and your overall physique will shine.

My personal reason I usually dismiss the marinade: I cannot think of my menu far enough in advance to actually marinade for the proper length of time (unless of course it is a party or special event and that is a different story). But the usual dinner planning often consists of me (or D) walking home from work, craving one thing, making the purchase, and cooking it up using whatever items that are readily available. Steak is usually done au poîvre, chickens are done with a rosemary-garlic-pomegranate molasses rub, and vegetables are simply broiled or steamed with some garlic and olive oil. It is amazing how delicious and quick simple meals can be. But as I stated, holidays are a special occasion and a meal you would not normally consume is an excellent substitute for the monotony of the norm.

My mother has been taking the odd cooking class at Whole Foods. Each time she leaves one, she calls me to rave about Chef Daniel: “Oh, he did this! And that! It was so easy! It just melted in your mouth! Oh we must try it!” Now, I had wanted to do a peppermint-encrusted rack of lamb for a holiday dinner, but my mother was so exuberant about Chef Daniel’s meal, I allowed her to choose the menu (peppermint-encrusted rack of lamb is sure to come shortly). This red wine infused filet is actually listed as a New Year’s menu with a side of butternut squash risotto. Although my mother raved to no end about the nutty-buttery risotto, she also mailed me the remaining grains, so we opted for baked potatoes with sour cream and a wasabi-caviar accent. This meal was a more classic steak and potato fair, but with a definite and positively luxurious spin on the starch, resting in the wasabi-laced caviar.

This marinade is so simple, quick, and requires so few items I actually now wonder why I do not plan ahead and do marinades more often. The baked potatoes were an excellent accompaniment (though I think the wasabi-caviar in mashed potato form would have been even better). The filet was so thick and tender it melted in the mouth, and under the knife. (We were able to use blunt knives and easily cut through the meat.) The original recipe discards the marinade. Instead, I added mushrooms (at the start) and we sautéed the leftovers and spooned them on top the filet. Mushrooms quickly absorb whatever they are added to so the result was a wine-spiked mushroom to go with the light wine flavoring of the meat, excellent. As I said, the baked potatoes were good, but I think might have been even better as a mash. Still, the wasabi-caviar was a surprise with its slightly spicy flavor bursts that added a nice green sparkle to the potato.

A note on meats: No matter how you prefer to cook your meat, if on a stovetop, they should always be sautéed quickly at high heats. Whether it is pork chops or beef filet, neither needs the addition of oil or butter to the pan, just some salt and pepper patted onto the meat. Make sure your pan is HOT before you begin (water should evaporate almost instantaneously when dropped on). The meat will cause a lot of smoke so make sure the area is well ventilated and maybe open a window.

Serves 2. Active time about 20 min.

1 pound center cut of beef filet
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 sprigs of rosemary
1 cup red wine
1 Tbl red wine vinegar
10 white mushroom buttons, sliced (my personal addition)

1) In a bowl, combine all ingredients, except for the filet. Mix until well combined.
2) Transfer to a large plastic freezer bag (cuts down on clean up) and add the filet. Seal off the bag and place on a dish and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to 3 days. Flip bag halfway through sitting.
3) When ready to cook, Preheat oven to 450F. Heat an oven-safe sauté pan until very hot. Remove beef from bag and pat it dry, season with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until very brown on both sides (about 3-5 minutes each side). Transfer to the oven for 12 minutes for a medium rare cut, longer for more well done.
4) While beef is baking, in a small sauce pan warm a little olive oil. Remove a hanful of the red onion, rosemary and mushrooms from the marinade bag and about 4 Tbl of the red wine liquid. Saute on medium until mushrooms cook down (this will be done about the time you remove the meat from the oven)
5) Carefully (beef may stick a little) transfer beef from pan to plates and serve.

2 russet potatoes
2 Tbl sour cream
1- 2oz container wasabi whitefish caviar (fairly inexpensive for caviar at about $30 a bottle)

1) Place the potatoes in the oven about 30 min before you begin the filet. Preheat oven to 400F. Puncture potatoes with a fork about 4-5 times and wrap in tin foil. Bake for 40-45 min. (If you are making the filet, it is alright to turn the heat up to 450F in the last 10 min of baking the potato. Remove the potatoes and keep wrapped in foil while the filet is baking. They will retain their heat and still be hot when ready to serve.)
2) Once done, remove from foil and slice lengthwise with a knife. Holding the potato with a napkin, squeeze in the sides to create an opening at the top. Add a scoop of sour cream and a small spoonful of caviar.

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