|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Apr. 08, 2011 - 4:02 p.m.
This all started with Eileen's confusion over meat.
My wife's dear older friend 'Eileen' is dear, older, and very smart. But not about food. She's always liked eating it, but that's as far as it went.
A week before Christmas Eileen attended a large holiday party at some Elks lodge or something, and there she had the best meat she'd ever had in her life. I know because she called the next day and told me. The conversation went something like this:
"Tom! Tom! Last night I had the best meat I ever had in my life! They had a carving station and there was this huge roast of beef and the guy was slicing from it as you went by and it was the best meat I ever had in my life! I asked the hostess what kind of meat it was and she said 'filet mignon' so I went out and bought one yesterday and you have to come over and make it for me tomorrow because it was the best meat I ever had in my life!"
When she took I breath I quick cut in. "Um, Eileene? Are you sure it was filet mignon? Filet mignon doesn't usually come as a 'huge roast', see, and - "
"That's what the hostess said and it was the best meat I ever had so I went to the butcher at Costco and he sold me a giant one that looks just like it and I paid 96 dollars for it and it's the best meat I ever had and you're going to make it for me tomorrow night! Bring your stuff!"
Well first off, "bring your stuff" was her way of saying she still doesn't have anything in her kitchen beyond a stove and a floor. I was expected to arrive with everything else: knives, pans, cutting board, spices, that sort of thing. We've been friends for so long that I just keep it all packed in a box under the counter ready to go. So that wasn't a surprise.
But the giant, 96 dollar filet mignon was.
Of course what I - and you, probably - figured out early on was that she lugged home an entire beef tenderloin from the butcher's. And we were right.
When I got there she laid the 3-foot long muscle in front of me.
"Waddaya think? Huh? Huh? Is that some filet mignon, or what?"
"Ah, Eileen...did you ASK the butcher for a 'filet mignon'?"
"Of course! But he just showed me a tray with a bunch of little meat circles on it. They were tiny! I told him he was mistaken, and to bring me a big one like I had at the party. I think he was trying to pull a fast one on me and get rid of those trimming pieces, but finally he came out with the real one. Isn't it great?"
"Eileen, sit down...."
The next ten minutes were spent explaining the fine points of beef anatomy to an increasingly embarrassed and agitated little old lady.
"Why the HELL did that woman tell me I was eating filet mignon then! How could she not know! Is she an IDIOT? And what am I going to do with A THREE FOOT LONG TUBE OF MEAT now?!!"
I calmed her down and told her not to worry about the surplus. Whatever we didn't eat that night I would graciously bring back to my house. She was actually relieved to hear it.
After some discussion we decided to divide the loin in three and roast the Chateaubriand cut that night. "Real" filet mignon didn't sound appealing to her. She wanted a roast that could be sliced, as she'd had it at the party. Little round discs of meat weren't gonna cut it. So to speak.
So I cut out that middle potion of the tube, tied it, dry-brined it for an hour, and prepped some veggies while it was resting. (I don't eat veggies myself when there is tenderloin about. They take up valuable stomach space that could be used for more meat. But my wife, also in attendance, is not as militant as I am on that point.)
An hour later I smeared the thing with butter and popped it into a low oven til it hit 125 internal, then pan seared the outside til it crusted. Out of the pan to rest on a cutting board with a blanket of compound butter for 15 minutes.
It was gone. Just like that.
(With a '04 Navarro Correas "Alegoria" Cab Sauv. Mucho nice-o.)
Eileen: "That was the BEST meat I've ever had!"
Yeah. I know.
We carted home the rest of the filet and the next day roasted off the thick end. Had that for a few days as sandwiches, etc.
After that I made filet mignon. From the filet mignon part.
This time I went traditional, the way wifey likes it:
1. Blow the oven up to 450, with a roasting pan inside to get it just as hot. 2. On the stove sear tied mignons all the way around in a smokin' hot pan. 3. Move the mignons from the saute pan to the roasting pan and roast for a few minutes until...well, roasted. 4. Remove from oven. 5. Scarf.
Easy enough, right?
Well, somehowI managed to botch Step 4.
Normally I would have grabbed a potholder or the dishtowel looped through my belt (vestige of my old restaurant days) but I happened to be holding a pair of tongs when I opened the oven doors to check the meat. The meat felt done and being the impatient/lazy sort, rather than take two freakin' seconds to lay the tongs down and grab something...sane... I just pinched the front rolled edge of that glowing red half-sheet pan with the metal tongs and lifted.
I *almost* made it.
As I lifted I was concentrating so hard on keeping the pan balanced side-to-side on the tiny tong fulcrum that I neglected to account for the slight overhang at the top of the oven door.
The back edge of the sheet pan caught the lip and immediately jerked downwards. Out of instinct, I yanked backwards and up to compensate.
Did you see the movie "A Christmas Story"? Remember the scene where Ralphie is helping his Old Man change the tire?
For a brief instant 4 perfectly seared and roasted filet mignons were highlighted by my kitchen track lights as they arced up and over my head. Three miraculously landed on the table behind me, the fourth ended up in a Welsh Corgi. But I didn't find that out until later.
Because at the same time the 450 degree half sheet pan was also flipping over. And the same stupid instinct kicked in.
I caught it.
First with my forehead though. THEN my hands. And forearms.
I now look like I've gone through some Trobriand Island rite of passage into manhood involving branding followed by an ant poison poultice. And it's all covered with some neon white prescription cream containing nano-silver and who knows what other toxic heavy metals.
It was some of the best meat I ever had.