Saturday Dinner: Filet mignon with roasted asparagus and flash-fried sugar snap peas

Argentineans love beef. In fact in Buenos Aires many locals eat beef a dozen times a week. So great is their respect for this noble meat that no Argentinean would ever dream of marinating it or of seasoning it with anything other than salt.Food & Wine

You will not get an argument out of me. Good cuts of meat — ribeye, sirloin, tenderloin, or anything from the dorsal side of the cow — should hit the hottest possible surface, letting the water trapped in the meat and the surrounding to fat melt off to provide the requisite juiciness. If you’re dealing with a shoulder or flank cut, marinate the heck out of it (Cuban mojo marinade works well. Jack Daniels is even better, assuming we have enough in the house. I have a weakness.) We’ve already talked about my laws of steak prep. For now, let’s focus in on the meal at hand.

If I have time and cash, I like to buy meat at Ascioti’s in Solvay. They’re best known for their meatball mix, but they are also a first-rate butcher. One of those places where the guy behind the counter will take a slab of meat to the bandsaw for you if the steaks in the case don’t fit the bill. The kicker is that they don’t take credit cards. And, naturally, I never carry cash. So, on days like today, Wegmans had to do the trick. I don’t particularly care for Wegmans’ beef. Unless you buy a tenderloin cut, it’s pretty much the same — sinewy, fatty and not flavorful at all.

Tonight’s filets were paired with some roasted asparagus and sugar snap peas that were in the fridge and within a few days of losing their pep. The Wife gave it her seal of approval.OH! You’ll notice that these steaks never touched a grill. I’ve fallen into a school of thought that good cuts of steak should not be grilled. Frankly, residential grills do not get hot enough and overcooking kills your steak.

Filet Mignon (or porterhouse, or ribeye, or strip steak)
By Jared Paventi

  • Two 8-ounce filet mignon, approximately 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Take your steaks out of the fridge and let them sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes. (Never cook cold meat in a hot pan. The temperature differential will scorch the exterior.) Sprinkle each side of the steaks with a pinch or two of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Preheat a large, heavy pan (Stay away from cast iron and make sure the pan is oven safe.) for 2 to 3 minutes on high heat. Add your steaks to the pan, being careful not to let them touch, and cook 3 minutes each side. The steaks should have a nice browning on each side.
  4. Add the steaks, in the pan, to the oven. Cook 8 to 9 minutes for rare, 9 to 11 for medium rare (STOP! Filet mignon should never be cooked more than medium rare. Filets have little fat. The longer you cook, the more dried out it will get.) and 11-13 for medium.
Flash-Fried Sugar Snap Peas
By Jared Paventi
  • 8 ounces of sugar snap peas
  • Sea salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Just enough olive oil to start the recipe (less than a tablespoon)
This is really easy.
  1. Heat a medium frying pan on high heat. Add your olive oil.
  2. When it shimmers, turn the pan to coat, then add your sugar snaps. Add a pinch of sea salt and use a wooden spoon to toss, making sure your veggies have some of the olive oil on their skin. Cooking 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add your soy sauce to the pan, tossing to combine. Cook 2 to 3 more minutes and serve hot. The peas should have a nice crunch to them.
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