More often than not, I try not to repeat myself on posts. However, the week before Christmas I was flipping through Weber's Charcoal Grilling cookbook and stumbled across the recipe for Martini Filets. Trying to evaluate my "non-repeat" mantra, I checked the blog to see just how long ago I talked about this mouth watering dish. Turns out it was just under 3 years ago…and to think I thought it seemed like just last winter. Wow.
Since then, I've not only repeated the filets, but have added an additional variable: the "Reverse Sear". It was February 2009 when I first documented my use of the process and have continued to employ it quite a bit. For the true history of the reverse sear method, check out Steve Finney's Iron Pig BBQ site. In short, reverse sear involves cooking meat indirectly (or in my cheating case on this occasion, the oven!) until it is close to finished temperature before searing directly over a hot fire. The slow pre-cook allows the meat to rise to a uniform finished temperature before the outside flesh is caramelized through direct heat.
Reverse Sear is moderately in line with the process of Sous Vide, which has been pretty widely discussed (and hacked) over the last year. Reverse Sear is also deployable for more than just steaks. Chris at Nibble Me This has a great post on a Reverse Sear Prime Rib Roast.
I don't always use it, but for thick fillets, it is really a great way to ensure perfectly cooked meat every time.
Reverse Seared Filet Mignon Steaks with Martini Marinade
Adapted from Weber's Charcoal Grilling
2 T Gin
2 T Extra Olive Oil
1 T juice from jar of green olives
Grated zest of one lemon
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
4 filet mignon steaks
8 green olives with pimentos
salt & pepper
2 ounces blue cheese
Place all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Add the steaks of a plastic zip lock bag, pour in the marinade, seal and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Yank the steaks from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes.
Reverse Sear. As I mentioned above, the entire reverse sear can be done on the grill, or in my half-ass case, the oven. I know I'm not one to let the weather bother me, but it was cold, rainy and windy and I just didn't have it in me. I was already cooking veg and didn't want to fire up a second grill.
Season the steaks with salt and pepper and place into a cast-iron skillet. With the oven heated at 250 degrees, cook the steaks until they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees (an instant read thermometer is a must) and then pull them from the oven.
During this time, I ventured outside and prepped the Summit for direct high.
After the steaks rest a few minutes, transfer them to the hot grill grates and sear each side for about a minute each.
While the steaks were cooking, I added a mess of veg to the grillstone. This has become a favorite way of mine for preparing grilled vegetables. It's easy and works really well for keeping cut up vegetables from falling into the abyss of the grill.
With the filets finished, top with the crumbled blue cheese and speared olives.
Now, the most important part, the inside.
Although I've cooked my share of filets over direct heat, I must say nothing beats the reverse sear. Filets are thick and can be finicky to get 100% right over a hot fire. This is even more difficult when you are cooking for someone who likes their meat more on the "done" side of the scale. I refuse to serve hockey pucks.
Although the "searing" isn't the same as dropping an uncooked piece of meat on a hot grate, the pros outweigh the cons. I really can't recommend this process enough.