Sunday, January 11, 2009

Parmesan Crusted, Stuffed and Chicken-Fried Filet Mignon

It may have been snowing all day here yesterday in NY, but my kitchen was filled with the flavors of summer. We had (deep breath here...) Parmesan Crusted, goat cheese, basil, sundried tomato and lemon stuffed fillet mignon for dinner. As I write this, I wish I'd made extra so I could have it for lunch was dreamy.

I know - I know - not exactly light fare. But I told you, I was already getting bored with all that healthy stuff. And now that we've covered a few healthful recipes for the New Year, we can get back to having fun! In moderation, of course...

By the way, I overheard a debate over the definition of 'chicken fried' versus 'country fried' recently, and felt a little embarrassed I didn't have my facts down on the subject, being a Texan and all. Here's a little lesson on the topic, from Wikipedia:

Chicken fried steak
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chicken fried steak (also known as country fried steak) is a piece of beef steak (tenderized cube steak) coated with seasoned flour and pan fried. It is associated with Southern U.S. cuisine and hospitality. Its name is likely due to chicken fried steak's similarity in preparation to fried chicken, though the dish is also similar to the classic Viennese dish Wiener Schnitzel, a tenderized veal cutlet, coated with flour, eggs and breadcrumbs and fried.

The precise origins of the dish are unclear but many sources attribute its development to German and Austrian immigrants to Texas in the nineteenth century who brought recipes from Europe to the USA: Wiener Schnitzel.[1] The German preparation, of course, is different but the similarities are obvious. Lamesa, the seat of Dawson County on the Texas South Plains, claims to be the birthplace of chicken fried steak, as does Bandera, TX.[2]
Chicken fried steak is among numerous popular dishes which make up the official state meal of Oklahoma.[3][4]

Apparently, the only difference between chicken fried and country fried is that in 'country frying', no egg wash is used. Another food geek nugget - did you know that chicken fried chicken is just fried chicken off the bone, versus 'fried chicken' that still has its little limbs? And of course, there's always DEEP frying, but that's another subject all together.

These would actually be great for company, as you can bread them earlier in the day and keep them in the fridge before frying up. Just be sure to remove them about a half hour or so before cooking so that the filling gets nice and molten when cooked.

Parmesan Crusted, Stuffed and Chicken Fried Filet Mignon
Serves 3.

3 small filet mignon steaks, a good half inch thick or a little over
3 oz goat cheese mixed with 1 heaping tablespoon cream cheese
3 large basil leaves, minced
3 large sundried tomatoes, minced
zest of one small lemon (half a teaspoon or so)
salt and pepper
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs mixed with 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan and 1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil
Egg wash - one egg beaten with half a cup of milk or half and half
couple tablespoons flour for dredging

Make your cheese stuffing by combining the goat cheese, cream cheese, lemon zest, sundried tomatoes, basil and a pinch of salt together with a fork. Set aside.

With a pairing knife, cut a slit in each filet, going along length-wise and stopping 1/4 inch before you cut through the other side. You want to make little 'pockets' to hold as much of the filling as possible. Stuff with the filling - as much as you can without it falling out when pick them up - about a tablespoon and a half - depending on the size of your fillets.

Continue the breading process by sprinkling some flour over your steaks, then rolling them around in it for a bit to give the entire exterior a light coating. If you're cooking right away, preheat your oven to 350 and heat up large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon of oil and enough olive oil to coat the entire bottom of the pan.

Set up your panko/parmesan/pepper bowl next to your egg wash bowl. When your oil is hot, begin breading by giving each fillet a quick dip in the egg wash (coating all sides) then the panko mixture, pressing in to get a good coating. (If you're not making right away, you can put them on a small cookie sheet sprinkled with more of the panko coating to rest on, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Add the steaks to your pan, getting a nice sear on each side - about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Using tongs, GENTLY stand them on end to sear the narrow edges, turning as needed.

Transfer (careful not to squeeze out the cheese) to an aluminum lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for ten minutes (when clear juices begin to run out - it's time to take them out!)

Tip 1: You want your oil HOT, so give it a few minutes to heat up before adding the steaks. If it's not hot enough - you'll know. You won't get that hissing sound, and the meat will kind of sit there, soaking up all the oil getting weighed down and soggy, versus 'crisping' and getting that nice brown crust you want.

Tip 2: If making ahead, cover a small cookie sheet with two layers of foil. The first will hold the steaks in the fridge (which you discard after frying.) After frying, just put the steaks back on the same cookie sheet to put in the oven. Less washing up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So I've got *almost* 4 dollars in the bank, filet mignon in the freezer, panko, butter, olive oil, spices, and (thank God) reggiano cheese. For lack of an egg and flour, I modified your recipe a bit -- it was heaven. Oh em gee. Thank you! I'll be back to peruse your recipes regularly.