This should really be two recipe posts because knowing how to craft and serve a perfectly seared Steakhouse filet mignon is a fine skill all its own. And when it comes to a cool and crisp wedge salad, my homemade version could not be easier. From start to finish, this meal should take 45 minutes and dirty one bowl and one skillet.
First, I want to address this steak. The tenderloin runs along the spine and is usually cut as two long snake-shaped cuts of beef. The tenderloin (not to be confused with the short loin) is sometimes sold whole. If the short end of the tenderloin is cut into portions before cooking, that portion is known as filet mignon or the fillet.
The fillet is considered to be the most tender cut of beef, and the most expensive. The average steer (male) or heifer (female) provides no more than 4-6 pounds of filet. Because the muscle is non-weight bearing, it receives minimal exercise, which makes it tender. Currently, at my local grocery store, it is ranging from $16 a pound (for choice) to $27 a pound (for prime). Cooking a steak at home, however, is still much cheaper than the price tag at a Steakhouse.
I never use a grill, but instead, cook our steaks in a hot cast iron skillet on a gas stove and finish in the oven. For this particular dinner, I cooked the bacon for our wedge salad first and then utilized the drippings to sear the steaks in the same pan. If I were not also making a wedge salad, I might either coat the steaks in olive oil and use a dry, hot pan or melt butter in the pan before adding the steaks. I will talk more about your cooking options below.
4 slices bacon
3 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (*any blue cheese would work, see my additional note below)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 head iceberg lettuce (keep in the fridge until the steak is done cooking)
1-pint cherry tomatoes
Fresh chives or green onions, minced
1 pound of the most beautiful cut of filet mignon you can afford
*Stilton is a designation equivalent to saying "Champagne" because it must come from one of three protected origins and designated by the European Commission. They require that only cheese produced in the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire and made according to a strict code may be called "Stilton." You should buy any blue cheese that you like for use in this recipe. Jim does not LOVE blue cheese, so I often ask a knowledgeable cheesemonger which crumbly blue cheese is the mildest in the bunch.
Using kitchen shears, cut the bacon all at once into 1/2 inch pieces over a large skillet over medium heat, frequently stirring to break up the slices that may be stuck together until crisp and fat is rendered, about 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, move bacon to a paper towel, turn off heat but do not wipe out the skillet.
In a bowl mix yogurt, garlic, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and three-fourths of the crumbled blue cheese, reserving the remaining one-fourth to sprinkle on top of our finished salad. Taste and adjust to your liking. I usually add a splash more of vinegar and a tablespoon of water to ensure the dressing is the right consistency.
Let steaks sit on the counter and come to room temperature. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Reheat bacon fat over medium-high heat until it is just beginning to smoke. Add steak and cook on the first side for three minutes without moving them. Flip and cook for three more minutes. Then using tongs turn on its side and hold in place to give a quick sear on all sides. A meat thermometer like this one would come in handy. When the meat reaches 120 degrees, it will be medium-rare. If you like medium cooked steaks add a minute per side.
Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
If I were not using bacon grease, I mentioned earlier a variety of cooking methods. I recommend adding smashed garlic and other aromatics such as fresh thyme, rosemary or bay to the sizzling butter in the pan with the beef. Tilting the pan and using a spoon to bath the delicious butter up on top of the filet as it cooks. I would sear for two minutes on the first side, then flip and sear for one minute before putting the pan in a hot 400-degree oven for five to eight minutes. Always tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes after removing from heat.
Prep salad and serve
While the steaks rest, cut the lettuce into wedges and remove the cores. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and mince the chives or green onions.
Arrange the lettuce wedges and steak on individual plates and drizzle with homemade dressing. Top with tomatoes, bacon and remaining blue cheese. Sprinkle with chives or green onion and season with salt and pepper to taste.