Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon

from Cook's Illustrated

It's often difficult to cook thick filets, but this method makes it easy to cook 2 inch fillets that weigh about 8 ounces each to medium rare. It would also be great even if you don't use the peppercorns. --Pamela

While heating the peppercorns in oil tempers much of their pungent heat, this recipe is still pretty spicy. If you prefer a very mild pepper flavor, drain the cooled peppercorns in a fine-mesh strainer in step 1, toss them with 5 tablespoons of fresh oil, add the salt, and proceed.

Serves 4
5 tablespoons black peppercorns , cracked*
5 tablespoons olive oil , plus 2 teaspoons
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 center-cut filets mignons , 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, 7 to 8 ounces each, trimmed of fat and silver skin

1. Heat peppercorns and 5 tablespoons oil in small saucepan over low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When mixture is room temperature, add salt and stir to combine. Rub steaks with oil and pepper mixture, thoroughly coating top and bottom of each steak with peppercorns. Cover steaks with plastic wrap and press gently to make sure peppercorns adhere; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until faint smoke appears. Place steaks in skillet and cook, without moving steaks, until dark brown crust has formed, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn steaks and cook until well browned on second side, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer steaks to hot baking sheet. Roast 3 to 5 minutes for rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Transfer steaks to wire cooling rack and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

*I cracked them in a heavy-duty baggie with a hammer; it worked great and didn't make a mess.

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