Pan sauteed beef tenderloin, twice-cooked broccoli with a balsamic reduction, roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato soup

Yeesh. You can tell by the length of the title that this was a complicated meal. It’s probably the most complicated meal I’ve ever prepared, or at least the one with the most things simultaneously occurring. Abby and I had our three year anniversary on Tuesday, so we decided to whip up something special (and complicated) in honor of that.

This recipe is from The (Reluctant , Nervous, Lazy, Broke, Busy, Confused) College Student’s Cookbook. I don’t know what broke college student is buying filet mignon, but that’s just me. Anyway, we stopped by a new butcher today, Olympia Meats. That place is awesome. Not only did they cut the meat right in front of us, our purchase got rounded down to $20, a savings of a buck or two.

Note: This meal requires some planning. The beef needs to be marinated for at least 2 hours (or overnight). The sun-dried tomatoes need to be soaked for an hour. You can also make the balsamic reduction in advance. Read all the instructions in advance so you can plan your attack. We split up the tasks and had all four burners going, and somehow got everything done at about the same time.

The soup

1/2 oz sun-dried tomatoes (not the oil-packed kind)
1 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
4 roasted red peppers (or four red peppers – roast them yourself!)
basil, chopped
salt and pepper

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in water for an hour. Cut up the onion into large chunks or strips. You’re going to blend it later so it doesn’t matter too much.

If you got plain red peppers, now is the time to roast them – simply coat the peppers in olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and broil them in the oven (on a baking sheet). The tops will start to darken, so flip them over. Once they start to darken a bit again, take the peppers out. Let them cool down, then peel the skin off. Slit down the side, then scrape out the stem and seeds. Voila!

Anyway, now that your onions are cut, your tomatoes are soaked, and your peppers are ready, cook the onions in a large pan using the olive oil and medium heat. Don’t let them turn brown. It should take about 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, red peppers, chicken stock, salt, and pepper – everything but the basil. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Pour that all into a blender and smooth it out. Strain the soup to get rid of chunks. Add any other spices you might have a taste for, then pour into bowls and garnish with basil.

The beef and the broccoli

2 8-oz filet mignon steaks
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 bunch broccoli
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

The marinade

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

Mix all of the marinade stuff in a large ziploc bag. Put the steaks in and seal the bag, getting rid of as much air as possible. Marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

For the balsamic reduction, simply put the balsamic vinegar in a small pot and simmer until it reduces a bit. The book says 20 minutes, but it took us way longer and didn’t thicken up until we took it off the heat for a bit.

The broccoli gets cooked twice. The first time you’re going to steam it. To steam something you put it in a strainer or colander just over (but not touching) a pot of boiling water. Cover the top so the steam doesn’t escape, then let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Take the steaks out of the marinade and scrape off the excess. The flavor’s in the meat by now! Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over pretty high heat. Put the steaks in the pan and cook each side for 1-2 minutes until a crust forms on the side touching the pan. Lower the temperature to medium. The book says cook for another 3-5 minutes for medium rare, but it took a bit longer for us, probably about 10 minutes.

Take the steaks off and wrap them in aluminum foil. Leave them sitting for about 10 minutes to let the juices settle.

While that’s going on, let’s get back to the broccoli. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan at a medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Toss for a couple of minutes. If the broccoli heads start losing their bright green color, they’re done.

The finishing touches

Phew. Still following? Good. We’re almost done, and it’s so, so worth it.

Remove the steaks from the foil but keep the juice in the foil at hand. Either cut up the steak or serve as is, but once it’s on the plate spoon some of the juice on top.

Add the broccoli to the plate and drizzle a little of the balsamic reduction over it. It’s pretty sweet so don’t use too much, but save some for the table because it’s also delicious to dip the steak in.

All done!

The result

This is the best steak I’ve had in recent memory. I attribute about half of that to the awesome quality of the meat and half of it to the marinade. We put a little pool of the balsamic reduction on each of our plates to dip both the broccoli and the steak in. The sweetness of the reduction contrasted nicely with the savory flavors of the rest of the meal.

The soup was pretty good. I would have liked to maybe add a little bit more spice and top it with some crème fraiche. Overall, this was the best meal I’ve eaten in quite a while.