An elegant fillet of beef tenderloin has long been associated with special occasions, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this succulent, tender steak whenever you need a beef fix. Chef Neal Fraser shared this recipe with us, pairing the tender steaks with what he calls polenta souped up with hominy and pancetta. Delicious!
Game plan: Sautéing the steaks in the rendered pancetta fat, left over from making the polenta, adds extra flavor. It’s not necessary, though.
Heat to 500°F and arrange the rack in the top third of the oven. Season steaks with salt and freshly ground black pepper; let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.
Heat a large cast iron skillet or frying pan over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add oil (or reserved rendered pancetta fat) and swirl to coat the pan.
Place fillets in the pan and sear until nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip steaks, then place the entire pan in the heated oven. Cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the oven and let rest 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
Beverage pairing: Rich red meat—a great opportunity to drink BRW, or big red wine. A meaty, lush, new-world Cabernet has the tannins to handle the beef’s unctuousness and the native sweetness to meet the warmth of the corn. A good bet is the 2004 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.