Is there anything worse than shelling out big bucks for a fancy cut of meat, or any ingredient for that matter, only to ruin it by over or under cooking it? I think not. Right after Justin and I got married, we had his parents, sister and her husband-to-be over for dinner at our house. Determined to impress, we bought fancy, expensive filet mignon. I made awesome mashed potatoes, decadent creamed spinach and a killer cheese tray. Everything was going off without a hitch until the time came to cook the steaks. Since steaks cannot be cooked ahead of time, I had an audience. I got out my sparkling, new-off-the-registry All-Clad sauté pan, melted some butter and threw the steaks in. Reader, things did not go well. The pan was way too hot and the outside of the steaks started to burn before the interiors could cook. Somehow oil splattered from the pan on to the stove-top and CAUGHT FIRE. The smoke alarm sounded. My poor cat freaked the eff out. And I was humiliated. My in-laws were incredibly gracious and pretended not to notice. They deserve an Academy Award. Eventually we ate and everything was fine, but it certainly was not the impression of domestic tranquility I had hoped to impart. I’ve come a long way, baby.
I have since arrived upon a fool-proof method for cooking steaks. No more smoke alarms, no more fires, no more embarrassment at dinner parties. Only juicy, succulent, perfectly cooked steaks every time. This is the kind of simple kitchen hack that makes you look like a rock-star without breaking a sweat. Leave it to the geniuses at America’s Test Kitchen to take the heat off us home cooks. Steaks are placed on a baking rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and cooked in a low oven for 20-40 minutes, depending on desired doneness (please don’t cook these to well done- ahem, Mom!) The low oven evenly cooks the steaks, so that the interiors come up to temperature without burning the outsides. Placing the steaks on the baking rack ensures that air circulates around the steaks, which means that the exteriors stay dry and don’t steam. Then the steaks are seared in a hot skillet, giving them a lovely, flavorful crust, sans flames. This method works perfectly, whether you’re cooking 1 steak or 8.
The steaks alone are divine, but while we’re serving filet mignon, why not gild the lily a bit? Enter blue cheese butter. This stuff is dangerous. Just as delicious on bread- or a spoon- as melted on top of a savory steak. Luscious, tangy blue cheese is mixed into softened butter, spiked with hot sauce. Don’t be afraid of the hot sauce here. There is plentiful creamy, dairy goodness to temper the heat. A tender, juicy steak topped with this blue cheese butter rivals what you will be served at any steakhouse and at a fraction of the price. Which means you can entertain *impressively* way more frequently. No smoke alarms necessary.
Fool-Proof Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter
Recipe can be scaled to the number of steaks you plan to cook
- 4 filet mignon steaks, about 1- 1 1/4 inch thick (approx. 8 oz each)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
20 minutes before you plan to cook the steaks, remove them from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275. Place a baking rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place steaks on baking rack and put baking sheet in oven. Cook as follows for desired doneness:
- 20-25 minutes for medium rare (90-95 degrees from oven)
- 25-30 minutes for medium (100-105 degrees from oven)
- 30-35 minutes for medium well (110-115 degrees from oven
- well done: just cook a hot dog
Once steaks have reached desired temperature in oven, remove steaks from oven. Have butter and oil pre-heated over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet (such as cast iron.) Sear steaks in skillet for about 2 minutes per side. Once steaks have seared, remove from skillet and place back on baking rack, covering them loosely with foil to allow them to rest. Rest steaks for 10 minutes before serving. Top steaks with blue cheese butter, if desired, and parsley.
Blue Cheese Butter
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
- 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together in small bowl. Top steaks with butter as desired, about 1-2 Tbsp per steak. This is also spectacular on bread or crostini.
Method for cooking steaks adapted from America’s Test Kitchen