Take your Valentine to dine – at your table

Published 9:56am Monday, February 13, 2012

It is the time of year to think about what you are going to serve to that special someone on Valentine’s Day. Yes, I mean to cook for that special someone and not a reservation. I always go back to my favorite chef Frank Stitt in Alabama for some ideas. I have done this recipe many times before, but I happened to see some good looking t-bone steaks at Whole Foods (grass fed of course), and thought that this would be the perfect Valentine’s dinner. With a salad and some chocolate for dessert, it will be an easy evening for good food.

“Cowboy fillet” refers to a bone-in beefsteak. You can substitute a bone-in rib eye (also known as cowboy rib eye), a bone-in strip steak or a strip sirloin, or the more familiar t-bone or porterhouse. This is a wonderful recipe with whatever you choose to use.

Cowboy Fillet with Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Serves 4

Kosher salt

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

1 tablespoon bacon drippings, or olive oil

2 medium onions, cut into ½ -inch dice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 marjoram sprig, leaves removed and chopped (could not find and did not use)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

Four 10-12-ounce bone-in beef tenderloin fillets

Coarsely ground black pepper

4 slices Blue Cheese Butter (recipe to follow)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1½ teaspoons of salt. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, for six to eight minutes. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add the bacon drippings and let melt. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and garlic and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sweet potatoes take on a little color, for three to five minutes. Season with the marjoram (did not do), salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

While the onions and sweet potatoes are cooking, heat a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until almost smoking. Season the steaks with salt and lots of coarse black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-high and sear the steaks, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, then cook to desired doneness, for four to six minutes total time for rare, for eight to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet and let rest for five minutes.

Scatter the sweet potato hash browns onto individual plates and top each with a cowboy fillet. Garnish with the blue cheese butter.

This butter is excellent over baked potatoes, lamb chops, or crusty bread.

Blue Cheese Butter

Makes one 6-ounce log

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 shallot, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 ounce blue cheese, such as Bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert or Roquefort crumbled

½ teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest strips

Juice of ½ lemon

Kosher salt to taste

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 scant tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Melt 1 teaspoon of the butter in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and the garlic and cook until just tender and fragrant, about two minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining butter, the blue cheese, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Mix well, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Turn out onto a sheet of waxed paper, shape into a log and roll up in the waxed paper. Refrigerate until needed. (The butter can be kept for several days in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, or freeze it in smaller batches for use as needed, for up to three weeks.)

Happy Valentine’s!

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