Filet Mignon with Vegetable Sauce
Last night, I cooked a dish from Giuliano Bugialli's Foods of Italy. As mentioned here, I adore this cookbook and have spent hours pouring over its gorgeous photos and delicious sounding recipes. It's been a while since I cooked something from it though, and at Win's suggestion, I decided that Filet Mignon with Vegetable Sauce (Filetti alla Griglia con Salsa Contadina) would mark our reintroduction to this book.
This dish is wonderful and I am so happy that we tried it out. I must confess that I was a bit worried about making it work due to the limited prep time I have at night. Most of my early evening is spent taking care of our Lima Bean and cooking dinner often is left until after she's asleep. This meal seemed just complicated enough that I was worried we'd be eating dinner at 10:00pm by the time I had it all done. (Late for Americans, although standard in many other parts of the world, I know.) Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in some food prep time this afternoon during Lima's nap and the dish turned out to be much easier than it seemed. The recipe below is based on the one found in Giuliano Bugialli's Foods of Italy.
Filet Mignon with Vegetable Sauce
Filetti alla Griglia (o alla brace) con Salsa Contadina
6 filet mignons
3 celery stalks
3 carrots, peeled
1 medium-sized red onion, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
15 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
4 fresh basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
4 ounces boneless beef or veal in one piece
1 cup dry red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
Remove the meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
To prepare the sauce: Coarsely chop the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and basil. Put all the chopped ingredients into a saucepan then add the bay leaf and clove.
Put the meat on top of the vegetables and pour the wine over it all. Here is what this step looks like:
Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, without stirring. Enjoy the delicious aroma that soon fills your home. Season with salt and pepper, mix all the ingredients together, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes longer.
Remove the pan from the heat and discard the meat, bay leaf and clove. (In our house, this means give Win the meat and he'll enjoy it on the deck while grilling the filet mignon.) Put the contents of the pan through a blender or food processor and puree until just slightly chunky/almost smooth.
Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over medium heat and, when the butter is melted, add the vegetables. Taste for salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until a smooth sauce has formed. Here's what my somewhat chunky sauce looked like at this stage (keep in mind I was only making two servings, so the sauce quantity is vastly reduced from what's listed here to serve six):
Bugialli suggests cooking the filet mignon with the broiler, for about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Win opted to use our grill instead and the filets came out beautifully. As I've mentioned before on this site, my husband knows what he's doing when grilling meat.
Remove the meat from the grill or broiler. Place each filet on a bed of warm vegetable sauce on individual plates. See the photo at the top of this entry for a look at our finished product.
Despite my initial concerns, this dish was actually much easier to prepare than I thought and we got it on the table at a very appropriate dinner hour. It looks great when plated and tastes even better. The vegetable sauce is very fresh, yet it has a nice depth, and it complements the meat so well. We enjoyed this meal with some red wine and savored what might be one of the last nights we sit out on our deck before Fall and Winter's cold air snatch that ability away from us.