the home chef … on Valentine’s Day

By Harlene Deane

This “I Love You” dinner is sure to please any lover — or food lover — in your life!

Pan-Seared Filet Mignon with Roasted Potatoes and Merlot Sauce

• 4 large russet potatoes
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 6 1 1/4-inch-thick filet mignons
(about 3 pounds total)

Pre-heat oven to 425. Oil two baking sheets. Cut potatoes lengthwise into
1/2-inch thick slices and arrange in one layer on baking sheets. Lightly brush slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes in middle and lower thirds of oven until golden brown and tender, about 35 minutes. Keep warm.

Pat filet mignons dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet heat
2 tbsp oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown filets on both sides, without crowding, about 5 minutes total. Transfer filets to a shallow baking pan and roast in the middle of the oven about 10 minutes for medium rare.

On each of 6 plates, fan potato slices and top with a filet. Drizzle filets with some sauce. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
This recipe serves six, but can easily be cut in half for two large servings or leftovers.

Merlot sauce
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 2 cups Merlot
• 2 cups rich veal stock or demiglace*
In a small heavy saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, without stirring until a golden caramel. Remove pan from heat and carefully add vinegar down the side of the pan (caramel will steam and harden). Cook caramel over moderate heat, stirring, until dissolved, about 3 minutes, and remove pan from heat In a heavy saucepan saute onion in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in Merlot and boil until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Stir in stock or demiglace and boil until reduced to about 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in caramel. Pour sauce through a sieve into a bowl. Sauce may be made two days ahead, cool completely, cover and chill. Reheat before serving.
*Chef notes: Can be found at specialty food shops and some grocery stores. Sounds complicated, but trust me, it’s easy. Serve some french green beans (found in small bags in the produce department) on the side and follow with something decadent for dessert — you’ll have them eating out of your hand!

About the chef: As an international flight attendant for 28 years, Harlene wrote a column for flight attendants on where to go and what to eat while on layover in various cities. After retiring, she started her personal chef business — the home chef on Fripp Island. Contact her for recipe ideas or questions at harlene@thehomechef.com.

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