Pan Seared, Bison Filet Mignon Steak with Porcini & Red Wine SauceBy Heidi Allison
If you love the taste of red meat, but shy away from it because of health concerns, this is your new go-to dish
In general, bison is low in cholesterol, a great source of iron and has a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. But when I saw the nutri-stats for grass-fed bison filet mignon, I had to look twice just to make sure I was reading the label correctly—a 6-ounce cut contains 44 grams of protein and a mere 3 grams of total fat—with only 1 gram of saturated fat…amazing! Those numbers grabbed my attention, but, could this product act as a stand-in for a tender, juicy, dry-aged rib-eye? Very lean cuts of “exotic” meats tend to cook up tough-as-shoe-leather, or taste gamey; this meat is neither.
Compared to beef, grass-fed bison has a cleaner, richer flavor that starts out “meaty” and finishes with a hint of salty sweetness. Cooked properly, this heart-healthy cut will also be fork-tender and very juicy—no easy feat for any lean cut.
While it is tough to match a great steakhouse steak at home, you can come pretty close if you use this easy, four-step technique. The meat must be room temperature before cooking, which ensures even cooking. Generously seasoning the meat with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then filming with oil, enhances its flavor and prevents the meat from drying out. Lean cuts, such as filet mignon, sirloin or hanger, must be seared quickly at a high heat, which caramelizes proteins and creates that craved, flavorful crust. And, it’s crucial you allow the meat to sit at least 5 minutes before serving. This final step ensures the flavorful juices redistribute from the perimeter back to the center, which keeps it juicy.
The best way to do this is with a cast iron skillet, which has been heated at a high heat till almost smoking (put the fan on and open all the windows—this will create a lot of smoke.) Once the meat hits the pan, turn the meat only once using tongs—never a fork—which can leach juices. If you follow this technique-driven recipe, the finished dish will be a perfectly cooked, medium-rare, tender, juicy filet!
Pan-Seared, Bison Filet Mignon Steak with Porcini & Red Wine Sauce
2 Bison filet mignons, 6 ounces each
Flake kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
2 garlic cloves
3 fresh sage leaves
1-inch piece of fresh rosemary
½ cup red wine
25 ml whiskey or bourbon (about ¾ oz. or ½ airplane bottle)
½ cup low-sodium beef broth
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. minced, flat leaf parsley Preparation
Remove steaks from package and wipe both sides with a moist paper towel. If steaks are thick, pound to ½-inch thickness. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides; then pour enough oil over both sides of steaks to cover the meat (about 3 tablespoons). Allow the meat to come to room temperature—about 30 minutes.
In a heat-proof bowl, add porcini mushrooms and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to soften—about 20 minutes. Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and lightly chop any large pieces and set aside.
Strain the soaking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer to remove any grit and set aside.
Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add filets to pan and sear till a crust has formed –about 2 minutes. Turn the filet with tongs and sear on the other side until a crust has formed –about 2 minutes. Remove filets to a clean plate and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Wipe out skillet with a clean kitchen cloth. Add the porcini, red wine, sage, rosemary and garlic. Simmer over a medium-high heat until the wine has reduced by one-third—about 2 minutes. Gradually add the mushroom soaking juice, whiskey and any meat juices that have collected on the plate. Whisk the cornstarch with the beef broth; then add to the skillet and whisking until the sauce has thickened—about 3 minutes. Remove the sage and rosemary.
Place filets on serving plates and pour sauce over meat. Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve. Pairs well with toasted Israeli couscous with saffron.
Notes from the Author
Grass-fed bison can be found at Ralph’s, Gelson’s and online.