Monday, December 24, 2012

6 Tips to a PERFECT KISS Filet Mignon - Pan Seared

Pin It Now!

OK, first, fair warning, Christmas came a bit early for me.  I was contacted through the Foodie BlogRoll (now making available a $2 guaranteed CPM ad rate for bloggers... but I digress) to review a sponsor.  The Certified Steak and Seafood Company sent me an early gift of AMAZING quality Certified USDA Angus Beef Brand Prime Filet Mignon to try.  The steaks were free, what follows is my opinions and review.  Mine and mine alone...

So, here's my first tip... Quality DOES matter.

Keep scrolling down for the remaining tips for that perfect steak...

As the above screenshot was lifted from the Certified Steak and Seafood Company website.  It very clearly explains why quality beef is so expensive.  Out of the whole cow, less than one percent is ever certified USDA Angus Beef Brand Prime... Restaurant quality beef.  Your average neighborhood grocery store rarely if ever sells this Prime graded beef.  Most of this goes to restaurants and even then, only to top quality (high priced) restaurants.  That's why at a TOP rated steak house, a 10 ounce Filet is about $45 (or more).

Once you add aging into the mix (aging gets that buttery soft melt in your mouth flavor and texture), a 28 day aging process will double the cost at a steakhouse.  I did a quick phone call to KC's premier meat store and their price on aged (although they only offer 21 day ages, Certified Steak and Seafood Company only sells 28 day aged beef) USDA Angus Beef Prime Fillets are an astounding $60 a pound.  I shop at three different grocery stores, none of them even offer this option.

So, does all that matter???

Well, yes and no...

YES, OF COURSE it matters and of course you will have a better dining experience with the USDA Prime.  The steaks I received were 2 inches thick, beautify marbled.  The marbling is tiny rivers of fat that when cooked properly melts into the beef.  There is flavor in the fat, but a balance is needed.  Too much and you have gristle... Too little and you have a dry tough steak.  The Filet Cut of beef is notorious for having less marbling than other cuts.  That's why most home cooks are disappointed with the results and a restaurant graded fillet is worth the money.  To be certified Angus Beef quality, the cows are inspected while still "on the hoof".  They weigh in under 1,000 pounds, making the meat more tender, better color and texture.  Best of the Best  Graded beef matters!

NO, Honestly the extra quality of a USDA Angus Prime Cut versus your standard store bought cuts does not really matter if you do not take the time to respect the quality and cook properly...

Fortunately there is no special equipment, no secret techniques that take years to master in order to get that top rated steakhouse experience at home... The best way to cook a superior cut of beef is the simplest.

Thus... K.I.S.S.    Keep It Simple Stupid 

All that you need is

  • paper towel, 
  • a heavy bottomed oven safe skillet, I like a Cast Iron Skillet
  • Olive Oil, 
  • Salt, Pepper 
  • and a remote prob instant read meat thermometer.
No marinade (taste the beef, in lower grades a marinade will enhance the beef... in this case... Taste the Beef! No Spice Rubs (same reason).  A little oil and Salt and Pepper

OK... Here we go... 6 steps to a great Pan Seared Filet Mignon...

Step ONE...

Dry the beef with a paper towel.  

This helps to brown the beef.  If it is wet, the beef will poach in it's own juices.  By drying you make it possible for the beef and the spices to connect to the HOT pan.

Step TWO...

Rub a small amount (1 tsp) of Olive Oil on the beef.

If you have a top quality oil, now is the time to break it out (notice the Rosemary sprig in mine).  This adds flavor, makes the seasonings stick as well as a heat transfer surface for your beef.  The small amount of oil will keep the beef from sticking to the skillet.  If you add oil to the skillet first, the high heat will burn the oil before you get a chance to add the beef.

Step THREE...

Salt and Pepper ONLY

Keep it simple, taste the beef, if you start adding chili peppers, hot sauces, any number of rubs, etc you end up hiding the tastes that you are spending extra for.  A big pinch of Salt, a half dozen turns of a pepper grinder on each side are all the seasonings that you need.  Remember, KISS and Taste the Beef.



OK, now it's time to cook... total time is just about 5 minutes.  Yes, even with a 2 inch thick steak like this.  First, get your pan HOT before adding the meat.  I take a cast iron skillet, heat this in the oven for 20 minutes at 500 degrees.  No oil, seasoning no nothing, just the pan in the HOT oven.  After 20 minutes, I turn my burner on it;s highest setting and move the skillet topside.  Again, letting that heat for another 5 minutes... HOTHOTHOT.

Have a watch with a second hand ready.  Take your steak and set it on the HOT skillet for 30 seconds only.  The steak will smoke... a lot.  have a window open and the fan on the hood over your burners running.  That's OK, the smoke will make the house smell like beef!  After 30 seconds, flip the beef (using only tongs, NOT a fork) and cook the other side for another 30 seconds ONLY.

Now the steak has been pan seared.  The seasonings (salt and pepper) have formed a crunchy crust that will add a contrasting texture to the meat.  But also the high heat begins the cooking process.  You can see in the photo above the meat start to brown above the crust (well, below as I have already flipped it).

OK, when I use this technique with a thin steak, this may be enough to cook the steak.  But these were two inches thick.  I still needed to cook a while more to be sure the temperature was right (more on that next step).  The oven was still HOT from pre-heating the skillet to 500 degrees.  So, I flipped the meat again (still no fork, tongs only) and moved the skillet into the HOT oven.  I turned the oven off, but the residual heat is plenty to finish the cook session.

I leave the skillet in the oven for TWO MINUTES.  Then I again flip the meat (no fork, tongs only) and cook for another TWO minutes.


Cook by Temperature, Not Time

Every one agrees that beef tastes best cooked to a medium rare temperature. Back in Step Four, take a quick measure of where the temperature is for the steak.  Mine was at about 110 in the center.  After doing the 2 minutes per side, the internal temperature measured in at 125 degrees.  Once removed from the oven, generally meat will always gain at least 10 degrees during the rest period (next step).  130 is a perfect medium rare.  As you can see from the photo, mine actually jumped up to the Medium stage of 145 before it started to cool down.  In doing research for this post I discovered that the extra marbling in the beef aids in the evening out of temperatures.  If you are using lesser grades of meat,  the temperature does not spike as much.  So, instead of medium rare, I was serving a medium steak... That's alright, actually my wife prefers hers less pink.


Rest before slicing

And this my friends is about the most important tip... Take at least 10 minutes and preferably 15 or even 20 minutes before you slice your beef.  It will stay plenty warm enough, it allows the muscle in the beef to relax, which allows the juices to coat them better, which allows the juices to stay in the beef instead of running out onto the cutting board.  

If you scroll all the way back to the top of the post you will see the small amount of juices that came out when I sliced the steak into 8 pieces (against the grain... this helps make it fork tender).  Less than a tsp total is pretty good.  If I were to have sliced the steak fresh from the skillet, at least a quarter cup would have spilled out... Thus ruining a juicy tender cut of beef.

If you only take this one suggestion, your steak cooking will improve a hundred percent... rest your beef before you cut.  You will be glad you did!

So, bottom line this... Was this a restaurant quality ($45 to $90) steak once I was finished... YES.  the combination of proper technique, temperature control and perfect beef to start made this about as good as it gets for me.  As I said, this was a freebie.  But here's the actual prices...

4 (8 ounce) Beef Fillets, each aged 28 days, each 3rd party certified USDA Prime Angus sells for $99... Below the cost of buying local.  Certified Steak and Seafood Company uses the catch phrase, "Restaurant Quality, Internet prices"  Indeed, on that count the certainly deliver on their promises.  Pricing, packaging, quality and of course the finished product all lived up to the high expectations I had.  

One more bottom line question... "Would I buy with my own money"?...

Again, you bet I would.  No, this price point is much too high for a standard old Sunday afternoon grilling.  BUT, any special occasion (like my son coming home from a visit from the Army next month)... Absolutely I would order these myself.  There is just nothing like a good steak and Certified Steak and Seafood Company provided that and more.

FREE $25 Limited Time OFFER

Certified Steak and Seafood Company wants you to give them a try.  So much so that they are willing to put their money where your mouth is ... Well, their beef where your mouth is.  100% money back guaranteed, lots of options (They sell seafood as well), all top restaurant quality (Anyone having something special for New years???).  Follow the blue letter link, look over their site, find something you might like to try, mention this post (use code FBR125D) at check out and you get $25 off the order.

And just to wet your appetite and show a possibility...

I decided to serve my KISS steak on a bed of Sweet Potato/Rosemary Risotto.

I also used the pan drippings to make a blue cheese Bourbon dipping sauce (that I actually used on the risotto... remember, great steak, salt and pepper only).

What a meal... 

Thanks to the generosity of the Certified Steak and Seafood Company.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite way to do a beef filet is to reverse sear it on a grill but yours looks pretty awesome too.

    Happy New Years to you and Ms Jackie!