A couple of freezing rain/snow showers this weekend had me happily staying cozy in the house while only the bravest attempted to venture out into the ice-coated world. Except for my porch, which doesn't get much sunlight, the ice was mostly gone by the time I headed to my one class of the day. I have a pretty easy-going semester this time around which leaves me pretty excited for all the other things I get to do - but then my to-do list is always endless regardless of just how much free time I have. Speaking of to-do lists and time, I've been mulling over Covey's lesson on the Time Management Matrix and have tried to apply it to my to-do list whenever I can think of it. The main idea in the lesson is that the activities we do in our lives can be defined as time spent in one of four ways using factors of importance and urgency. My current blog post is important but not urgent, my load of laundry waiting to be folded is neither important nor urgent, my little boy needing to be put to bed is both important and urgent while calling my sister right now would be urgent but not important. It's a deep topic and gives me much to think about but my takeaway here is that prioritizing my to-do list is not as simple as it might seem. Do you find yourself putting the fun and satisfying stuff at the top of your lists and find that you've procrastinated on the important and challenging stuff once again? Guilty.
Of all the recipes on my list this weekend, this one made it to the blog (the others are for another week). It's also my favorite because I am a meat & potatoes kind of girl. If I want a meal that will satisfy me to the fullest, this is it. There are times when I plan out the menu for the week and we are okay with a veggie filled meal like this one or this one; but when I am craving something deliciously satisfying and home cooked (or as close as I can get to it when we are traveling) this is what I look for.
The Béarnaise sauce was not always around in my life. As a preface, I cannot argue with the fact that a well-cooked steak of high quality does not need any sauce because it's absolutely delicious as is, but if you have an opportunity to eat it with some freshly made Béarnaise sauce, I say take the opportunity to try it. When my husband (then fiancé) learned that I've never had a filet mignon (or any other kind of beef steak for that matter), he made it his mission to change that. And change it he did when he took me to Manny's in Minneapolis the weekend we became engaged. It was a beautiful melt-in-your-mouth kind of filet mignon cooked medium-rare and arrived with its own little silver gravy boat filled with Béarnaise sauce. I have not seen it offered anywhere else since and only recently decided to make my own. This sauce compliments a steak perfectly and beautifully. A hollandaise based sauce, it is soft and silky in texture with a brightness that doesn't scream acidity yet there is no mistaking the taste of white wine and herbs. Oh and pan-seared steaks? So amazingly simple that I probably won't bother sending my husband out to the grill with them in the future.
Pan-seared Steak & Béarnaise Sauce
- The sauce: you will first need to clarify your butter if you don't already have any on hand (see how to do it here) and leave it to cool to room temperature.
- In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar and wine to a boil then add the shallots and herbs. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the shallots have softened and wine reduced slightly (it will be about 2 Tbs of liquid remaining).
- Whisk together the water and egg yolks. Remove the shallot and wine mixture off the heat (onto a hot pad or something similar) and reduce the heat to very low. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and start whisking immediately. Continue whisking until the yolks become slightly frothy than return the saucepan back onto the heat. Whisk until the eggs start to thicken up and take on a custard-like consistency. This will take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. **If the yolks start to thicken quickly (which could lead to curdling) remove the saucepan off heat and continue whisking vigorously for a minute or two before returning it to the heat again.
- Remove the saucepan off the heat once again and drizzle in the clarified butter, continuing to whisk until the sauce mixture is uniform. Cover with a lid and set aside until ready to use.
- The steaks: bring the meat to room temperature by setting it out on your kitchen counter at least an hour or two before you begin cooking them.
- Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom pan on a medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes (do not oil the pan!). Meanwhile brush the steaks with vegetable oil on all sides. Season the top and bottom liberally with salt and pepper.
- Place the steaks into the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes without moving. Flip the steaks over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Depending how well you want your steak cooked, continue flipping the steak every few minutes until the internal temperature registers your desired doneness. Allow the steaks to rest for 5 minutes before serving. **alternately you can heat your oven to 400 and finish cooking your steaks in the oven after both sides are seared to your liking. Baking them in the oven can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
- 1 cup clarified butter (ghee)
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 Tbs minced tarragon
- 1 Tbs minced chervil or parsley
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs + 1 tsp water
- 4 egg yolks
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 - 8 oz steaks of your choice
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper