Last Christmas Eve was the first one I didn't spend in Pittsburgh. Apparently I hadn't thought about that prior to the evening so I had nothing prepared for dinner. At 5pm I ran out to the store and was able to snag some lump crab meat so my husband could make us Maryland style crab cakes for dinner.
This year I was well prepared. I bough filet mignon at the market over the weekend along with potatoes and fresh green beans. When dinnertime came I took everything out of the refrigerator and then realized that I have never made filet mignon in my life! Luckily Frank bought me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated again this year so I was able to find a foolproof recipe for our dinner.
The filet is heated in a hot skillet to sear the meat and make the peppercorn crust. Then it is put into a hot oven and finished to the desired temperature. We enjoy our steak medium so it took 7 minutes in the oven and then it rests for 5 minutes before eating. The steak was tender, juicy, and delicious. The peppercorn crust added a nice crunch and great flavor. It was really good for my first attempt! The centers were a little more medium-rare then medium but all in all it was a tasty Christmas Eve dinner.
Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon (slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
3 T. colored peppercorns (I used black, green, white, and pink)
4 T. olive oil
1 T. sea salt
2 center cut filet mignons, 2 inches thick, 8 ounces each
1. Place the peppercorns in a plastic bag and crack with the bottom of a heavy pie pan.
2. Pour the cracked peppercorns into a skillet along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat over low heat, swirling the pan occasionally, for 8 minutes.
3. Remove the peppercorns from the heat and cool for at least 10 minutes. Stir in the salt.
4. Rub the steaks with the oil and peppercorn mixture making sure to thickly coat the top and bottom. Cover the steaks with plastic wrap, pressing down gently to make sure the peppercorns adhere. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a foil rimmed baking sheet in the oven while it is preheating.
6. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet until faint smoke appears. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes without moving the steak. Flip it over and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
7. Remove the steaks from the pan and place on the hot baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 7 minutes for a medium-rare to medium steak.
8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Loosely tent with foil for 5 minutes before serving.