Also on the menu:
• fresh oysters on the half-shell with champagne sauce
• potato gratin with apples and walnuts
• molten chocolate cakes with raspberry sauce
Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce
2 6-ounce filet mignon (beef tenderloin steaks)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
Remove the steaks from refrigerator and bring to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom of a stainless steel (oven-proof) skillet (no plastic handles) with olive oil. Heat the skillet over high heat. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, place the steaks in the skillet and sear well — top, bottom and sides. Use stainless steel tongs to move the steaks around.
Place the skillet containing the steaks in the preheated oven to finish cooking, about 8 minutes for rare (120 to 125 degrees) or 11 minutes for medium-rare (130 to 135 degrees). Transfer the steaks to a warm platter, tent with aluminum foil and allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes. (As the tissues contract, the juices are drawn back to the center of the meat.)
While the steaks rest, prepare the Béarnaise Sauce (recipe follows).
Combine the shallots, tarragon and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
In a double boiler pan, or a bowl set over simmering water (medium-low heat), lightly whisk the egg yolks with 1 teaspoon of water and the cooled vinegar mixture until well-blended and lighter in color.
Slowly whisk in the butter, little by little, until the sauce is thickened and light. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Add more finely chopped fresh tarragon, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes about 1 cup.
— Recipe by Tom King