Through my job, I managed to get my hands on an advanced copy of All-Around Goddess Mimi Thorisson’s newest cookbook, French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in a Vineyard (out October 25, 2016). If you don’t already know her from her beautiful blog, Thorrison, is a veteran of the fashion, travel, and media industries, who moved from Paris to a quaint part of the French countryside called Médoc, where she cooks amazing food, lives the most picturesque life, and blogs to tell the tale.
While the cookbook is most useful for those with 1) large families to feed and 2) people with perfect lives in beautiful country homes, as opposed to someone who got home for dinner at 10 p.m and is slowly melting in a tiny Bushwick kitchen, there is one recipe here that is very beginner-friendly but looks difficult. Seriously, I have made salads that took me more time to prepare. In the book, Thorrison talks about how everybody complains when this dish is not on a restaurant menu, writing: “in a world of no sure bets, this [dish] is the exception.” And this dish is fancy, topped with a sauce made of cognac and crème fraîche (any ingredients with accents on its letters = fancy dish).
I have never cooked beef, or any meat really, before in my life, so I was afraid of how it would turn out. I feel like it should have been a sad thing to make a steak for one, but it was actually one of the best nights of my life: #TreatYoSelf. I also chose not to invite a friend because 1) I don’t want it to be my fault if they get Salmonella, and 2) it was cheaper. I was really, really shocked to find out that the final result was damn near perfect. This is a recipe for the books.
Though the recipe makes 4 steaks, I only cooked one, but did not modify this recipe at all. I made the same amount of sauce (enough for 4 steaks) and put the remaining sauce aside to eat along with something else.
Black Peppered Filet Mignon with Cognac
From French Country Cooking, by Mimi Thorrison
Filet Mignon steaks (how ever many you’re making, but not more than 4)
Sea salt and pepper
Vegetable oil (1 tsp. per steak)
¼ cup Cognac
½ cup Beef stock
4 tablespoons (half stick) of butter, cut into pieces
½ cup crème fraîche
- Season the steak(s) with enough salt and pepper that it is coated fully on both sides, full armor. Let it marinate for a few minutes, while you prep the other ingredients, maybe.
- Heat a large skillet (cast iron, if you have it). When it is very hot, add the oil, then the steak. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side, until it’s brown on the top and bottom but pinkish in the middle. This will make it rare, so sear it for longer if you want it more well-done. Once you’re done cooking it, put it aside on a separate plate.
- Reduce heat to medium, add the cognac, and let it reduce for 2-3 minutes. This, right here, is the most divine thing you will ever smell. Then add the beef stock and reduce it for about 3 minutes.
- Add the butter a few pieces at a time and “swirl” it in. The sauce should start to thicken. Add the crème fraîche and heat until very hot, but not boiling. When it’s ready, the sauce will coat the back of a spoon.
- Put the steak back in the pan. Turn it over a few times so it is coated in the sauce. Put the steak on a new plate and serve immediately, with potato chips, frites, or some other side dish of your preference. If you choose to make less than 4 steaks, leave the remaining sauce aside for another dish.