Filet mignon is one of the most tender and easiest cuts of beef to cook. Too bad it’s also one of the priciest. Get the most beefy bang for your buck by serving this cut with a sauce that adds flavor, color and texture.
Here are four sauce recipes. All are easy to make, so don’t feel you’re stuck with serving one sauce at a time. Remember how half the fun of an old-fashioned beef fondue was having a variety of sauces on the table to dip your cooked meat into. Offer one, two, three, four (or more) sauces when you whisk that filet off the grill.
Once you’ve made these sauces, let your imagination take you in other directions. Try a classic bearnaise sauce, or spoon up a chunky salsa made from chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley and capers.
A yogurt-cucumber raita from India would be a cooling counterpoint to the sizzling meat, while a mustard butter would add a silky richness.
Any of these sauces, condiments or toppings will spark up more than a filet mignon or other beef cut. Try them with grilled chicken, leg of lamb, even grilled salmon or swordfish.
Gyu dare dipping sauce and marinade
Gyu dare means “beef sauce” in Japanese, according to Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, authors of “The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood and Vegetables” (Ten Speed, $25).
Combine ¾ cup soy sauce, ½ cup sake, ½ cup mirin and ¼ cup rice vinegar in a saucepan; heat to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute. Cool; refrigerate at least 12 hours to let flavors mingle. Store refrigerated up to 1 month. Makes 2 cups.
Variations: Spike the sauce with flavor accents: wasabi paste, grated ginger, fresh tarragon or basil.
From “Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen,” by Monica Bhide.
Blend to a smooth paste in a blender: 1 cup packed cilantro (stems and leaves); 1 cup packed mint (leaves only); 1 green serrano chili; ¼ small red onion, sliced; 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; ½ teaspoon salt. Add up to 2 tablespoons water, if needed. Chill, covered, 30 minutes.
Blender sauce Choron
Bearnaise is a rich sauce, based on hollandaise. Give it a tomato twist by turning it into Choron sauce. This recipe, adapted from Jacques Pepin’s soon-to-be-published “Essential Pepin” (Houghton Mifflin, $40), builds on his hollandaise in a blender technique.
Combine 2 tablespoons each tarragon vinegar and white wine and ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots in a saucepan over medium heat; cook until all but a tablespoon of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool.
Melt 2 to 3 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 peeled, seeded, chopped tomato; cook, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon tomato paste; heat to a boil. Mash well; let cool. Stir in 1 tablespoon each finely chopped tarragon and parsley.
Heat 3 sticks butter in a small saucepan over low heat until bubbling but not brown. Put 4 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and white pepper, and 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice in a blender. Cover; blend on high. Immediately, with blender running, add hot butter in a steady stream. Stir in shallot mixture and tomato mixture. Serve warm.
Coffee barbecue sauce
Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, owners of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine, feature this recipe in their new cookbook, “Maine Classics” (Running Press, $30). They credit the recipe to Justin Walker, executive chef at Arrows.
Mix 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon each cocoa powder, ground coffee, Spanish paprika, ground nutmeg and ground cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne together in a small bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 finely chopped Spanish onion and 3 finely chopped cloves garlic; cook until translucent.
Add 1/2 cup each red wine, brewed coffee and vinegar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar and the spice mixture. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 can (16 ounces) crushed tomatoes. Cook over low heat, 30 minutes.
How to grill it
This basic how-to for grilling four 8-ounce filet mignon steaks is adapted from “Weber’s Time to Grill” (Oxmoor House, $24.95), by Jamie Purviance.
Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350 to 450 degrees). Season steaks with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 15 to 30 minutes. Grill over direct medium heat, with lid closed, until cooked to desired doneness (8 to 10 minutes for medium rare) turning once or twice. Remove steaks from grill, let rest 3 to 5 minutes.