Filet with Cured Asparagus and Lemon Brown Butter
By Our Chef, Phillip Schaaf
I know what you are thinking. This dish sounds like it was pulled from a tasting menu of a fancy four star restaurant, which means it’s obviously really difficult to execute. It probably takes a lot of time and requires a whole lot of cleanup. Well, it is sort of fancy, but it is actually super simple and can all be done in one pan in a matter of minutes!
Filet is one of those cuts of beef that is often times hailed as the king of the beef. It is the leanest of the steak cuts which has had a hand in its popularity. It is nice to enjoy a steak without killing the calorie count for the day. Filets are often times wrapped in bacon or coated in a huge pat of butter, but they don’t necessarily need to be swimming in fat to be flavorful. Because the tenderloin is a low activity muscle, there isn’t a lot of beefy flavor to it. It is a mild cut of beef and therefore enjoyed by a broader group of beef eaters.
This recipe utilizes one of my favorite springtime vegetables, asparagus. Tender spears of asparagus are peeled and quickly cured in sugar and salt before being flash seared in the same pan that the beef was prepared in.
There are a few reasons why we cure the asparagus. The main goal is to tenderize it without blanching. Cured asparagus could be eaten raw in a salad it is so tender. The other reason a cure is beneficial is that it equalizes the flavor and brings a bit of balance to the asparagus. Peeling the spears will cut back on the bitterness that can be found in some asparagus, especially in the off season.
The beef is seasoned simply with salt and pepper. A bit of fresh thyme thrown in during the finish of the dish will give it an herbaceous note that adds depth to the final dish. Step by step this dish will take about 15 minutes to prepare.
What You'll Need
For the beef:
1 4-6 oz filet per diner
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
For the asparagus:
1 lb fresh asparagus
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ Tbsp unsalted butter
Juice of one half lemon
2 sprigs fresh Thyme
Preheat a good stainless steel or cast iron skillet on medium heat on the stove. Liberally season the filets with salt and pepper and set aside for a couple of minutes until the pan is ready to cook.
While waiting for the pan to preheat, remove the fibrous ends of the asparagus and then gently peel the stalks, leaving the tips untouched. Mix together the salt and sugar and sprinkle on to the peeled asparagus. Set a timer for ten minutes. Once your timer goes off, rinse the asparagus in cold water and gently pat dry with a towel.
While the asparagus is curing, the pan should be ready for the beef. Add the olive oil to the hot pan and then sear the beef for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and let it rest while the asparagus cooks.
The dry asparagus can be cooked in the same oil that the beef was seared in. Gently place it in the oil and use a pair of tongs to turn the asparagus to cook on all sides. It will not take very long so be sure not to leave it unattended. Once the asparagus begins to brown, remove it from the pan and add the butter and thyme and cook until the butter browns. Squeeze half a lemon into the pan and serve over the steak and asparagus. If you want to make it super fancy, some fresh chopped flat leaf parsley will add an extra kick of green spring to the dish.
Disclaimer: This recipe will result in a medium rare filet. If you would like it cooked a little longer, place it in a 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes for a medium to medium well internal temperature.
PRO TIP: Serve this dish with a poached or fried egg on top for a breakfast or brunch.