Food & Drink

Getting saucy

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. Try them with grilled chicken, leg of lamb, even grilled salmon or swordfish.

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.


Gyu dare (“guh-you-dareh”) 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).

¾ cup soy sauce

½ cup sake

½ cup mirin

¼ cup rice vinegar

Combine all four ingredients 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.

The Wichita Eagle—06/22/11


From “Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen,” by Monica Bhide.

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

Blend all six ingredients to a smooth paste in a blender. Add up to 2 tablespoons water, if needed. Chill, covered, 30 minutes.

The Wichita Eagle—06/22/11


Bearnaise is a rich sauce, based on hollandaise. Give it a tomatoey 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.

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons white wine

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

3 sticks, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons, butter

1 peeled, seeded, chopped tomato

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Combine first three ingredients 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 tomato; cook, 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; heat to a boil. Mash well; let cool. Stir in herbs.

Heat 3 sticks butter in a small saucepan over low heat until bubbling but not brown.

Put egg yolks, 2 tablespoons water, salt, white pepper and 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.The Wichita Eagle—06/22/11


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.

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon ground coffee

1 teaspoon Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon oil

1 Spanish onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup red wine

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cup vinegar

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can (16 ounces) crushed tomatoes

Mix first seven ingredients together in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until translucent.Add red wine, brewed coffee, vinegar, brown sugar and the spice mixture. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Cook over low heat, 30 minutes.

The Wichita Eagle—06/22/11