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Steak Purist?

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Karen/NoCA

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Steak Purist?

by Karen/NoCA » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:29 pm

I must be one because yesterday I flipping channels and came across Giada gushing over a beautiful fillet mignon she was about to prepare. It is my favorite cut of steak, so I decided to spend a few minutes. All went well until she said the steak would have a balsamic, sugar and butter sauce. OK, maybe that would be ok...but then came the end of it for me when she said the steak would go into the broiler topped with goat cheese until it melted down over the steak. Yikes! Does this appeal to anyone? I have not tried it, of course nor have I ever thought of putting any type of cheese on a beautiful fillet mignon.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Robin Garr » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:36 pm

Just thinking outside the box here, most of the classic food gurus, James and Julia in particular and before and after, label the filet as a beautiful looking, buttery tender, and relatively flavorless cut. I can't cite chapter and verse, but I think they all suggest using flavorful sauces and accompaniments to bring up the excitement quotient of the meal.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Tom Troiano » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:15 pm

I agree with Robin. When I worked in a country club in the kitchen in college this preparation (Giada's) was pretty common.

Maybe 20% asked for their filet this way.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Karen/NoCA » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:48 pm

I'd hardly call the fillet flavorless. I buy my fillets from a local grocery store which orders them from back east. I pay top dollar for them but they are a true fillet mignon. It is one cut I want to be the best I can buy. The ones I get around here do not compare. While I love goat cheese I just cannot see it with a good fillet nor can I do blue cheese on them. I guess my hubby has trained me well...being a former meat cutter and shop owner, he always said, "a good steak needs nothing but salt and pepper" Of course he does love a fillet roast with Béarnaise Sauce! :D
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Robin Garr » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:19 pm

I thought "flavorless" was pretty strong when James Beard said it, Karen. :D

I do think, though, that a lot of steak aficionados will call for a rib eye, and especially the cap portion, as being the most flavorful cut of steak. Whether that bolder, stronger flavor is "better" than filet mignon is in the taste buds of the beholder, I guess, but certainly filet justifies its price. :)
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Karen/NoCA » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:29 pm

Robin Garr wrote:I thought "flavorless" was pretty strong when James Beard said it, Karen. :D

I do think, though, that a lot of steak aficionados will call for a rib eye, and especially the cap portion, as being the most flavorful cut of steak. Whether that bolder, stronger flavor is "better" than filet mignon is in the taste buds of the beholder, I guess, but certainly filet justifies its price. :)

Rib eye is my "go to" steak, however when I want something with that certain je ne sais quoi...nothing beats a fillet mignon for elegance, buttery flavor and mouth feel. It just makes you feel special! :D Especially when served as the roast! Now that is really yum.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Hoke » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:42 pm

I've seen that treatment quite a bit, yes, Karen.

One of my "epiphany" steaks was many years ago when I was in Sparks Steakhouse (this was when Pat Cetta, one of the greatest of steakhouse/wine lovers was the wine buyer). I was urged to order their sliced steak with roquefort lightly melted over the top. Oh. My. God.

Since then I've had great and different cuts of steak with various cheeses and various spice/sauce treatments.

I think the difference here is between drowning a good steak in sauce (UGH!) and matching superb flavors to a superb piece of meat. Cooking something up versus creating a dish.

And think of it this way: if it's a really, really good cut of meat treated well, why should such a fine thing be even better enhanced with proper treatment?
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Re: Steak Purist?

by John Treder » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:07 am

Well, my favorite steak is a rib steak, or club steak, or bone-in ribeye, or whatever other name comes across the counter.
And the cap is indeed the best part.
And, yes, salt and pepper, and some garlic oil, is all it needs.
However, I do like to top it with a port wine mushroom sautee. Maybe it isn't _needed_, but it helps!
So I'm a wuss. Too bad!
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Jon Peterson » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:59 pm

Filet's my favorite cut, too, Karen. I'm thrilled with grilled filet with just a little salt and pepper. My Dad always hated to see any nice steak "ruined" by sauce, especially a bottled "store bought" one.
I must say, however, I don't at all mind a little something on top of my filet, be it lump crab meat, Sauce béarnaise, even a pad of butter a la Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Blue Cheese is also wonderful. One can always have a bit of steak with whatever's on top, then alternate with a bite that just steak.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Karen/NoCA » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:35 pm

A good friend of mine who loves to travel Paris came back from her last trip telling me about a fillet she had with a blue cheese sauce. Said it was the best steak she ever ate. She raved about that steak for months and I finally told her to make it at home. I don't think she ever found a blue cheese to match the one she loved.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:34 am

Sure, what's not to like about dairy fat and salt? ...but I do prefer my steaks with more subtle seasoning: s+p, maybe a splash of Worcestershire (before cooking) or a pat of butter (after cooking).
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Jenise » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:58 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:I'd hardly call the fillet flavorless. I buy my fillets from a local grocery store which orders them from back east. I pay top dollar for them but they are a true fillet mignon. It is one cut I want to be the best I can buy. The ones I get around here do not compare.


Okay, so you say filets aren't flavorless, then you admit that you have to buy some flown in from back east because the local meat is, apparently, kind of flavorless. Que pasa? :)

I'm in the flavorless crowd. It's just not a cut I love because of that, though it's size and fatlessness makes it the best cut for some applications; however the prime tenderloin I recently bought at Costco was awesome.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Tom Troiano » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:10 pm

In my humble opinion the filet (one "l" in filet, correct?) is the go to choice for the elegant wine tasting dinner in the dining room on a cold Winter night with three vintages of Ridge Monte Bello in front of you and classical music playing on the stereo and the rib eye is the choice for the Summer evening on the deck with the Ridge Geyserville in front of you and 60s or 70s pop music playing on the outdoor wireless speakers. There's a time and place for both but the rib eye has way more flavor.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Carrie L. » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:12 pm

For me, it needs a sauce too, and WITH a sauce, I love it. In fact, am making a whole tenderloin Friday night for my best friend's birthday. I'll serve it with Ina's horseradish cream sauce.
Agree it's pretty "vanilla" on it's own. When ordering a steak, much prefer a Ribeye or NY Strip.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:25 pm

If fillet ever comes into our house it is normally because it is going to be eaten raw.

I agree that really lean meats tend to lack flavour - that's precisely why I like ribeye, because the pockets of fat beside the lean portions baste those lean portions with flavout during cooking.

While I do not hold with dousing good meat with sauces that conceal the inherent flavours of the meat, I do like to enhance the flavour with things like a compound butter to try and put back what is often lost ore reduced in the cooking process.

This is my favourite fillet accompaniment (on the rare occasions that I cook it) - it also works well with pork tenderloin medallions and sweetbreads:

Sautee some chopped shallots in butter
Deglaze with a bit of Cognac or Brandy
Add a tbsp of Dijon mustard and 1/2 c. whipping cream, and (optional) some capers

Reduce, add S&P and lap the meat with the sauce
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Mark Lipton » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:16 pm

I'm with the group on the subject of ribeye and flavor, but I'll also put in a suggestion that dry aging beef will affect flavor as much or more than what cut is selected. Dry aged, grass fed beef with a reasonably high fat content is so totally unlike supermarket beef as to be a different thing entirely.

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Re: Steak Purist?

by John Treder » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:05 pm

I agree, Mark. And I have a nearby source. :mrgreen:
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Karen/NoCA » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:25 pm

Okay, so you say fillets aren't flavorless, then you admit that you have to buy some flown in from back east because the local meat is, apparently, kind of flavorless. Que pasa?


I did not say the local cuts were flavorless, I said they did not compare to the ones I order. When we buy fillets here or order in a restaurant, we get a cut with gristle. When I order from the local store I mentioned, they source from back east. I only order an uncut fillet. We use it to roast or cut into steaks. We do this for special company and/or occasions. The meat we get is certainly not flavorless, and it is that buttery, smoothness that I want from that cut. :D The local store sources from Creekstone Farms. Everything we have ordered has been excellent, although pricey.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Jenise » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:58 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:
Okay, so you say fillets aren't flavorless, then you admit that you have to buy some flown in from back east because the local meat is, apparently, kind of flavorless. Que pasa?


I did not say the local cuts were flavorless, I said they did not compare to the ones I order.


I know, I just wanted to tease. And truly, the prime filet I bought at Costco? I had no idea filet mignon could be so exceptional, let alone have the richness of a great ribeye with the filet's luxury mouthfeel. I wonder how you'd find it compares with your special-order stuff.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Karen/NoCA » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:32 pm

Jenise, I don't know about Costco...last heard they get their meat from Harris Ranch. Will have to check it out. I don't buy much meat from them.
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Joy Lindholm » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:27 am

I'm with the majority here in that I liken filet/tenderloin to be the boneless, skinless chicken breast cut of beef. Unless you add a lot of flavor (fat), it is so lean that you miss out on a lot of that great beefy flavor. Not to mention the risk of turning it to shoe leather if you like it more than medium rare. I will say that texturally, filet is great - I just miss the flavor of a really nicely marbled cut. My favorite is a shoulder cut called collar that we get from a local Waygu rancher - it has the marbling and tenderness of ribeye, at the price of sirloin!
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Re: Steak Purist?

by David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:37 am

I used to find filet to be incredibly boring until I started buying it from the local farm. Oh boy is it ever different. Not at all sure how to say it, other than it's just "beefier."
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Re: Steak Purist?

by Frank Deis » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:11 pm

Costco beef is good, especially the prime stuff in the blue trays.

I'm not a big fan of little filet mignon steaks but I like roasted tenderloin especially done as Chateaubriand.

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