Remember what we ate in college? In retrospect, it’s amazing what we considered as our daily sustenance. For me, it was Del Taco, Alberto’s, canned food like spam and corned beef, and on special occasions it was Shake-N-Bake with whatever kind of meat was lying around the apt. Probably spam. It was cheap. It was tasty. And almost comforting at 3 am coming back from a futile study session. Amidst all the drinking, we found ways to feed the need. I remember I was so poor one time that I actually scoured my room for change. Lifted up couch cushions, looked into the carpet corners and even my car. What did I buy with my hard-earned money? 3 hard-shell tacos and 2 red burritos from Del Taco. $3.30. Good times, haha. Tacos are messy, but when you’re broke, you’re eating up every piece of scrap lettuce and cheese that flies out from your monstrous, great-white-shark-bite of hunger. Now, as an adult, I make sure that before any night of debauchery I engage myself in, that I’m well ‘padded’.
My second guest for the “Gift of Gluttony” festival was MN who had told me about her recent diet. I had met her through a mutual friend because she had an interest in getting into the ‘make-you-buy-things-you-don’t-need’ industry called advertising. She told me some of her ideas for ads and I immediately took her under my wing because she had the potential. MN left a few months ago to attend the Virginia Commonwealth University for a degree in copywriting. For those that don’t know, advertising agencies have two positions within the creative department – an art director and copywriter. As an art director, I’m responsible for making an ad look good, which leads to hours and hours and hours of Photoshopping. As a copywriter, you are responsible for all the writing. Clever headlines. Sales promotions. Product descriptions. All of that. But both the art director and copywriter are responsible for concepting. A lot of copywriters have degrees in journalism and English naturally.
MN came back last week from school and I promised her a dinner because I haven’t seen her in months. She was telling me how she relied on Subway, pizza joints and restaurants with random deals as a daily diet. I said “hell no, you need to eat well.”
I had learned a lot from working at The Restaurant and wanted to put some of the knowledge into use.
Me: “Do you like beef?”
MN: “DO I?”
Me: “How’s filet mignon sound?”
MN: “Fuck yeah!”
Me: “May I bacon-wrap it?”
I served up a bacon-wrapped, filet mignon and topped it with deep fried oyster mushrooms. So good. For the sides, I made whipped potatoes infused with wasabi and some cipollini onions, which are wide and short, baby onions – not to be confused with pearl onions. I made a steak sauce using the drippings from the filet and threw in some Chianti wine and ready-made demi glace.
Filet Mignon with Chianti demi-glace and Wasabi Whipped Potatoes
Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
Salt and pepper both sides of the filet. Wrap each filet one piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Sear the filets on high heat with olive oil, about 2-3 minutes. Flip them over and slap it inside a 450 oven for about 12-15 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. I like medium rare.
Doneness Chart – This will vary
Medium Rare – 12-14 minutes
Medium – 14-16 minutes
Medium Well – 16-20 minutes
Well done – why bother making filet mignon
*Another trick which I’ve learned is the hand chart. Using your left hand, touch your index finger with your thumb in a relaxed manner. Touch that big slab of muscle that forms under your thumb. That is what ‘rare’ feels like. Now, use your middle finger to touch your thumb, that is ‘medium rare’. Ring finger is ‘medium’. Pinky finger is ‘well done’. You can feel how tight the muscle flexes in order for the thumb and pinky to reach each other.
Using the pan drippings, add some Chianti wine and beef broth. Scrape the pan for any of the ‘fond’, which are the little burnt bits of goodness. Do not discard those because they are flavor packets. Use water and sugar to balance out the tannins from the wine (alcohol) and saltiness. Make a flour/water mixture for thickening. Slowly whisk in the flour/water mixture to achieve a thick consistency for the Chianti sauce. You should be able to see the sauce stick on to the back of a spoon.
Wasabi Whipped Potatoes
Boil skinned potatoes until fork tender – about 15-18 minutes. Reduce the cooking time of potatoes by slicing them up into segments. Add salt to the pot as they cook. After they are fork tender, strain them and throw them back into the pot over low heat. This will cook out any remaining water inside of the potatoes. Water is bad! Mash up the potatoes and add butter, whole milk, salt and white pepper. Don’t use black pepper – black specks in the potatoes don’t look good. Add wasabi or horseradish to taste – should not overwhelm the dish.
Serve these up with your favorite veggies. As a garnish, I deep fried oyster mushrooms and topped the filet with it for aesthetics. You can put whatever you want – parsley, fried onions or herb-flavored butter.
Happy holidays and thanks for reading.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Posted by e d b m at 10:36 AM