~ Joe's Steak Joseph: Filet of Beef-Steak Sandwich ~
The French have several ways to generically say "steak". My personal favorite is "biftek", meaning "boneless beef-steak". If there is a bone in it, they call it a "côte de boeuf", meaning "beef-chop". Past that, just like us Americans, they have a list of words each denoting the specific cut (the place on the steer the meat came from). That said, when you order any type of beef-steak or beef-chop in a French restaurant, whether it's plain, seasoned, served with a sauce or served with sliced vegetables that act as a sauce, it is customary to serve it with some sort of lovely French bread. A hundred plus years ago, it was customary to serve it atop "a piece of crustless bread" ("a croûton"), which absorbed the beef juices and improved the presentation.
Steak Joseph is a modern-era (but now very retro) French filet mignon dish. It's said to have been named after a French eatery where is was first served back in the 1950's. It consists of a lightly-seasoned, butter-sautéd filet mignon topped with a quickly-made mushroom and Dijon-laced wine sauce. It's quite unpretentious considering how delicious it is. For a carnivore like me who could eat a "bloody" filet every day, it's a quick way for me to satisfy a craving in a hurry.
I first encountered the dish at the Lehigh Valley Country Club back in the early 1970's where it was served with a wedge of the famous French, pommes Anna (a crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside, thin-sliced and layered potato dish). It was really quite a la-tee-da, fancy-schmancy fine-dining experience, which, in-the-style-of-myself, I imitated. For a few years I fru-frued around my kitchen fussing with the potatoes Anna and making my steak Joseph for wide-eyed and easily-impressed dinner guests who all thought I named it after my husband Joe.
One afternoon I sent him to the market to get the fixings for our dinner, and, he came home with four French rolls and some Brie too -- he said he wanted to try it served as a sandwich. If you think that's extravagant, think again. Do the math. Two filet mignon, about 12 ounces each, cost $26.00 -- that's $6.50 a piece for four sandwiches. Throw in the cost of a box of mushrooms, an onion, the Brie and the buns -- hey, I've paid roughly that much for a restaurant hamburger!
Filet for Joe's steak Joseph = 1/2"-thick & lightly-pounded
2 1 1/2"-thick, 12-ounce beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon)
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend
~ Step 1. Place both steaks on a small plate in the freezer for about 45-60 minutes. Freezing them just long enough to firm them up will make them easy to slice evenly.
~ Step 4. Using a flat-sided meat mallet, lightly pound them, just enough to increase their surface area by about a third, or, to a thickness of slightly more than 1/2". Do not smash them to smithereens.
~ Step 5. Lightly season the tops of the four pounded filets with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend. Proceed with recipe.
The bold & beefy sauce-y gravy for Joe's "JSJ" Sandwich:
4 4-ounce lightly-pounded filet mignon, lightly-seasoned with sea salt and peppercorn blend as directed above
1 cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion
2 cups medium-diced baby bella mushroom caps, or your favorite mushroom caps
1/2 cup minced, fresh parsley
1/2 cup beef stock
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons of your favorite slightly-thick, "A-1"-type steak sauce (Worcestershire sauce may be substituted but thicker-type steak sauce is much better)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick)
3 tablespoons port wine, for deglazing pan, or whatever red wine you like
2 additional tablespoons minced, fresh parsley, for garnish
8-12 thin-slices Brie or triple-crème Brie, for placing on sandwiches, 2-3 slices per portion
4 high-quality French-style sandwich rolls, for serving sandwiches
~ Step 2. In a 12" skillet, melt butter over low heat. Increase the heat to medium-high. Place seasoned filets in skillet, seasoned tops down. Season second sides lightly with sea salt and peppercorn blend and saute 2 1/2-3 minutes per side, turning only once. Filets will be golden around the edges. At 2 1/2 minutes per side, the filets will be rare, at 3 minutes per side they will be medium-rare, and, past that, overcooked.
~ Step 3. Turn the heat off. Transfer the filets to a warm serving platter, leaving all of the juices in the pan. Cover the filets with aluminum foil and allow to rest while preparing the sauce. Do not cut into your steaks to test for doneness because I can tell you they are going to look underdone. Just remember: carry over heat during the rest period is going to continue to cook them a bit more, so just trust me and be patient.
~Step 4. Add the diced onions and mushrooms to the "fond" (the "pan drippings"). Lightly season with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, adjust heat to sauté, stirring almost constantly until onions are translucent and mushrooms have lost most of their moisture, about 5-6 minutes. Add the wine to the skillet, and, using a spatula, deglaze by gently loosening all of the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of pan, about 30 seconds.
~ Step 5. Add the beef-stock mixture and stir in 1/2 cup of the minced, fresh parsley. Bring to a boil, adjust heat to a rapid simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and nicely-thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
Assembly = bottom of roll + Brie + filet + gravy + top of roll.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; flat-sided meat mallet; 2-cup measuring container; 10"-12" nonstick skillet; nonstick spatula; aluminum foil; sandwich picks; serrated bread knife
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)