June 30, 2023
Posted: July 22, 2022 4:19 pm
Date night is a concept that has been around for decades, if not centuries! For eons (approximately) it has been a traditional custom for two individuals in a caring relationship to set aside quality time to share a meal together and enjoy each other’s company.
While date night can be a wonderful tradition, it can also be SUPER expensive. A nice steak dinner with a couple of steakhouse sides, a bottle of red (or two), and a decadent dessert at a restaurant will often fetch upwards of $200-$500. For most, that might be a once-a-year occasion (or maybe a once-every-10-year-anniversary occasion).
The price tag for something like that is WAY too high, and it’s not just due to inflation or a supply chain slowdown.
But this doesn’t mean you and your special someone can’t enjoy a delectable steak dinner in the comfort of your own home. I’d venture to say that, if done properly and with the right attitude, an at-home steak dinner can surpass any restaurant-quality steak you’d find within a 20-mile radius. When it comes down to it, you can save a boatload of cash in exchange for dish duty, which is so WORTH IT.
As the saying goes, “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Thankfully, you can accomplish an amazing date night dinner right at home when you put your mind to this oh-so-special Date Night Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Butter recipe.
This delicious dish is the perfect blend of savory and sweet, with a little bit of peppery spice to really kick things up a notch. The filet mignon is seared to perfection and then smothered in a blue cheese butter that takes this steak to new heights.
So let’s get started, shall we?
The filet mignon, or beef tenderloin, comes from the loin of the cow. This part of the cow is located in the rear and runs along both sides of the spine. The filet mignon is the most tender part of the beef because it doesn’t get much exercise, making it extremely succulent, juicy, and flavorful. The reason beef tenderloin costs as much as it does is that it is in such high demand and there isn’t a lot of it, relatively speaking.
It’s time for you to be honest with yourself. I mean really honest. When was the last time you went shopping for steak and decided to go with a less expensive, mid-range steak option? When was the last time you looked at your grocery store circular, identified the red-meat-of-the-week that was on sale, circled it with a big fat red Sharpie, and beelined it to the nearest market?
Now let’s take a deep, cleansing breath and push out the negative energy.
When shopping for your date night recipes, it’s important to remind yourself that you don’t need to skimp on the good stuff. The fact is, by staying home for date night, you’ve already shaved a good $100 off the final cost. Think about it — you’re not paying for parking or the valet, you’re not paying for the atmosphere, and you’re not tipping for the service. You ARE the service (and with any luck, the “gratuity” shall be paid in spades if you know what I mean wink-wink).
So head to the meat department and go to the top shelf. The most expensive tray of filet mignon on that shelf will no doubt be half the cost (or even a quarter of the cost) of one single cut of beef tenderloin at that steakhouse you considered for date night.
Go big, and then go home!
But before you head to the checkout aisle, make sure you get a couple more ingredients and a decent bottle of wine.
Obviously, you’ll need the meat. We recommend anywhere from 10 ounces to 16 ounces of beef tenderloin for this dish. Generally, grocery stores will offer a package of filet mignon that includes two filets of equal (or sometimes unequal) size. Each will be in the 5- to 10-ounce range. I say the bigger the better because if you make too much, then you’ve got leftovers. And filet mignon takes just as great the next day.
Some other items you need to make sure you have at home or in your cart:
• Butter (salted or unsalted, it doesn’t really matter because there WILL be salt in this dish)
• Kosher salt (see above)
• Fresh ground black pepper (try not to use the pre-ground powder if you can avoid it—and if I may digress, every household should have a pepper grinder to grind fresh black pepper because it makes ALL of the difference)
• Blue cheese (you don’t need much, so a small package ought to do the trick)
• A green vegetable (we’re not going to focus on this too much except to say that we recommend something green and crunchy like sauteed green beans, brussel sprouts, or asparagus—or bag it all and make a green salad with a vinaigrette because this dish will be rich enough without a creamy dressing)
• A starch (steak always pairs nicely with mashed or roasted potatoes, or opt out and go minimalist)
• Red wine (for those that imbibe in spirits, go with a merlot or a pinot noir)
One other item that is highly recommended is a cast iron skillet. Not every kitchen has a cast iron skillet, but every kitchen needs one. If you’re planning a nice date night steak and you don’t have a cast iron skillet, maybe consider taking some of that money you’ll be saving by not going to the steakhouse and invest in a $30 cast iron skillet. If properly maintained, you’ll have that pan for years and you’ll be able to pass it down to your kids and your grandkids and your grandkids’ kids and they’ll be using it to save money on date night, too.
About two hours before you are about to cook, take the butter out of the fridge so it can get soft. And then about an hour before you are ready to cook the filet mignon, take the meat out of the refrigerator to let it come down to room temperature. Allowing the meat to come down to room temperature will ensure that it cooks properly. An ice-cold slab of steak will sear on the outside but remain cold and raw on the inside. Medium-rare is ideal in a steak, but we want it done medium-rare the right way.
Use about a tablespoon of kosher salt and sprinkle it on all sides of the filets. You might not need all of it, and use what you think is appropriate. The idea is to get it nice and seasoned. Then do the same with the ground black pepper. Coating it with black pepper will give it a nice peppery crust, which offers a nice amount of heat but not too much. As with the salt, use your best judgment.
Once all of the sides are coated and it has been about an hour, fire up the hottest burner on your range (there’s always one that gets the hottest). Set the cast iron skillet on the flame and let it preheat for a good five minutes while you check on your side dishes.
Assuming the side dishes look good, it’s time to make the blue cheese butter. For this, take a small bowl and add two tablespoons of the softened butter and about an equal portion of blue cheese and mix it together, mashing with a fork if necessary, until smooth. Once it’s good and smooth, set it in the freezer to harden.
By now your cast iron skillet should be piping hot. Add a little pad of butter and let it sizzle around the iron and then lay the filets on the skillet as close the center as possible. They’ll likely sear and smoke so make sure to turn the fan on or open a window. We want them to sear well.
After four minutes, turn the filets and let them sear another three minutes.
Get them off the heat and set them on a plate and don’t touch them for at least ten minutes. We want to give the meat time for the juices to redistribute.
While the juices are redistributing, set the table and pour the wine (as if the wine hasn’t been flowing already). After the meat has had a chance to rest, plate your delicious meal and serve.
Place the hardened blue cheese butter on a butter dish or small plate and add a pad of butter directly on top of the filet mignon and give it a minute to melt a little. The combination of the creamy blue cheese and the savory, peppery, perfectly cooked filet mignon make the first bite an unforgettably sensual experience perfect for any date night.
Finally, go ahead and lift your wine glass, offer a toast to you and your partner, and celebrate your date night restaurant-style filet mignon hack—and enjoy the meal!
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