Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon with Port-Cherry Reduction

Lorenzo promised me to cook a hearty and delicious steak dinner because I had been eating soup for the past couple of days while getting over my strep throat. He had been wanting to try a new filet recipe other than our go-to favorite “au poivre.” Funny thing was he found the perfect recipe to use, but he never printed it nor remembered what it was called or who made it. All he remembered was blackberry as an ingredient. Geesh, that really helped narrow our search on the Foodnetwork. Luckily, I had found a perfect recipe that would suffice. Every recipe that I have tried from Cooks Illustrated does not disappoint, so I had no fear that this recipe wouldn’t deliver. This is truly an impressive and savory dinner, and paired well with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon with Port-Cherry Reduction

Adapted from Entertaining Holiday 2009 Edition: Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients: 5 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked 5 tablespoons plue 3 teaspoons olive oil 1 tablespoon kosher salt 4 center cut filet mignons, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, 7 to 8 ounces each, trimmed of fat Preparation: 1. Heat peppercorns and 5 tablespoons oil in skillet over low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When mixture is room temperature, add salt and stir to combine. Rub steak with pepper mixture, thoroughly coating top and bottom of each steak with peppercorns. Cover steaks with plastic wrap and press gently to make sure peppercorns adhere; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. **Note: While heating the peppercorns in oil tempers their pungent heat, this recipe is still fairly spicy. If you prefer a very mild pepper flavor, drain the oil from the cooled peppercorns in a fine-mesh strainer in step 1, toss them with 5 tablespoons of fresh oil, add the salt, and proceed with the recipe. 2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place steaks in skillet and cook, without moving steaks, until dark brown crust has formed, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn steaks and cook until well browned on second side, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer steaks to hot baking sheet. Roast 3 to 5 minutes for rare, 5 to 7 minutes form medium-rare to medium. Transfer steaks to wire cooling rack and let rest, loosely tented with foil, for 5 minutes before serving. Port-Cherry Reduction Makes about 3/4 cup Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups port 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup dried tart cherries 1 large shallot, minced 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 tablespoon unsalted butter table salt Preparation: 1. Combine port, vinegar, cherries, shallot, and thyme in medium saucepan; simmer over medium-low heat until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 30 minutes. Set aside, covered. 2. While steaks are resting, reheat sauce. Off heat, remove thyme, then whisk in butter until melted. Season with salt to taste.

Review: Wow, I was truly surprised by this sauce. When we have had a peppery steak, it usually is too spicy with each bite. But the sauce complimented the pepper-crusted filet to a perfect tee. The sweetness of the port, the tart cherries, and savory shallots and thyme worked like a trinity to the steak. I found myself taking a bite without wincing on the nasty bite of peppercorns mainly because the rich reduction sauce was a great flavor enhancer. This recipe is a definite keeper for all steak lovers especially if you love rich, sweet and savory all in one bite. Delicious!

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