Filet Mignon with Porcini Mushroom Compound Butter
I bet it started in the ‘50s. Maybe the ‘40s even. Of course I could be wrong, but it seems to me a perfect timeline fit. Back when sips of bourbon-and-bitters-based Manhattans and nibbles of caviar topped deviled eggs started the meal and Baked Alaska ended it and The Joy of Cooking lived in every good housewife’s kitchen cupboard.
Somewhere along the food heritage line, steak became the poster child for decadent dinners. And there’s no steak seemingly more decadent than the petite filet mignon.
Maybe it’s how it’s spelled with that sneaky, silent ‘g’ that shows off it’s Frenchie, linguistic ways. Maybe it’s because when you say “filet mignon” it simply rolls off the tongue and you sound so upscale. “Minnnnn-yon.”
Or maybe it’s because it’s such a dang expensive cut of meat. Because doesn’t expensive mean it’s the best? Maybe if you’re a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, but when it comes to especially flavorful food, hardly ever.
As things will happen over time, the filet mignon went from rock star status to a C-list contender on Dancing With the Stars, even getting lambasted by some of America’s top chefs. No flavor because it’s so low in fat. Overrated after becoming overexposed on nearly every American menu for years. And far too often, way overcooked for such a lean meat. Why oh why do people cook their meat well done?
But when this tender filet is cooked just right at a medium rare temperature, and a pat of fat is added to the ingredient list, suddenly we have a whole new ball game.
My husband is the king of cooking steak. I say cooking steak, not necessarily grilling steak. Grilled steaks are great, but steaks cooked on the stove and finished in the oven are world’s apart better.
Butter is the secret to this tender and flavorful combo. You could flavor your butter with herbs, onions or garlic, but our favorite is mushrooms. Because steak and mushrooms means true love.
And when the butter melds with the pan-grilled meat, suddenly you have a succulent sauce all of its own, and for very minimal cooking effort.
The only hard part about this recipe is resisting the urge to put 4-5 more pats of porcini butter on the lean steak. But then again, why deny yourself?
About the recipe:
Because it’s a part of the cow that doesn’t do any work, like walking or moving, filet mignon doesn’t have the same amount of connective tissue that other cuts of beef have, resulting in a more tender bite. But on the flip side that means it doesn’t have any fat so doesn’t possess the marbling other cuts have, so it has less flavor. This cut should ALWAYS be cooked medium rare. Remember, the cooking time will continue once you pull it from the oven, so pull it at about 135-140°F to ensure a proper internal temp once it’s rested.
To add flavor, you can wrap a piece of bacon around the outside of the beef and tack with a toothpick while cooking. But I think that usually ends up in just a stringy piece of bacon on the outside. I prefer just the compound butter. And always be generous with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as much of it will flake off during cooking.
Adding herbs and garlic cloves while cooking the steak after searing adds a huge amount of flavor. Hearty rosemary would be pretty tasty substitution for my favorite thyme. But avoid more tender leaves like basil or tarragon that will disappear in the searing heat.
Cast iron skillets are the way to go with a steak like this. The heat gives a great sear and creates a terrific crust and browns the butter perfectly for drizzling.
We use this cooking technique for all of our steaks, not just the fancy cut of filet.
Filet Mignon with Porcini Compound Butter
- 2 1½” thick Filet Mignon steaks, about 5-6 ounces each, at room temperature
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Porcini butter, recipe below
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
- Season the steaks generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Season more than you think you’ll need as much of it comes off during the cooking process.
- Heat a cast iron pan on the stovetop over high heat. Melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the steaks and cook each side of the steaks including the top, bottom and sides for about 4 minutes on each side or until browned.
- Remove from heat and add the garlic slices and thyme and cook in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 140-145 degrees F for medium rare.
- Meanwhile, remove the Porcini Butter Compound from the refrigerator and slice into ½ inch pats.
- Remove from the oven, spoon cooked juices over the steak and serve with a pat of Porcini butter over the Filets and garlic. Garnish with more fresh thyme if desired.
Porcini Compound Butter
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, divided
- ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place about 10 whole porcini mushrooms in small bowl. Cover with enough boiling water just to top mushrooms. Cover and set aside 5-10 minutes or until mushrooms have reconstituted and are soft. Drain mushrooms (save mushroom water for soups or gravy), squeeze out excess water. Thinly slice mushrooms and set aside.
- Place remaining porcini mushrooms in clean coffee grinder and grind to fine powder to make 2 tablespoons.
- Place butter in food processor fitted with metal blade. Add 2 tablespoons porcini powder, half of sliced porcini mushrooms, and salt to butter. Blend until well mixed and butter is smooth.
- Using rubber spatula, scrape butter onto sheet of plastic wrap. Roll into log shape. Place reserved porcini slices on top of butter and wrap tightly. Twist ends of plastic closed. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until just firm enough to slice.