Smackdown: Call Me Peter Luger


I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl.


That is to say, I’m a filet of beef with sauce porto, roasted shallots and potato puree (from Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook) kind of girl. You know me, I like the finer things in life. Like, I ALWAYS get cheese on my Whopper.

I wanted something deliciously classic tonight but didn’t feel up to bouillabaisse or coq au vin. Beef filet is (1) delicious and (2) classic, but also quick cooking. Of course, I only thought that because…yes! I failed to read the recipe all the way through before settling on it! If i had a nickle for every time I did that, I’d have enough nickles to fill a sweatsock, which I could use to bludgeon anyone who tries to take my filet of beef with sauce porto away from me.


Step one: Roast shallots with butter in the oven until brown and tender. That is, for one hour.

Well, at least the shallots didn’t need any babysitting, leaving me free to put the potato puree together while they roasted. Yes, I could just have made mashed potatoes on my own, but where there’s a recipe, there’s a way.

When I say “There’s a recipe,” what I really mean is “There’s an excuse to use way more cream and butter than I would have if I had my druthers.” See the cream in the picture? It looks like a good amount of cream, yes? It is ONE-THIRD of the total amount of cream that eventually got folded into these potatoes, until I thought I could fold no more. Be still, my heart. No, really, it’s still. That’s a lot of saturated fat.


Eventually, the shallots came out of the oven and I could turn to the beef. I gave it a good sear before stashing it in a hot oven to finish cooking through.

While it roasted, I got my sauce-makings together: butter, sliced shallots, flour, port and veal stock. Let’s face it, when you’re using port and veal stock – rich mahogany, gelatinous veal stock – you hardly have to do anything. Heat, reduce, pour over steak, the end.

saucy, 1saucy, 2

Of course, this recipe is from a book of French bistro cooking, which means that along with “heat” and “reduce” comes “strain” and “whisk in more butter.”

I dutifully sauteed the sliced shallots in butter, sprinkled over the flour, added and reduced the port, added and reduced the stock, strained the shallots out and whisked in several tablespoons of butter, until everything was nice and glossy. A pinch of salt to even out the flavor, and sauce porto complete.


Does this or does this not look like a plate of food for which you would pay a lot of money? And I DID pay a lot of money, because I don’t know where you live, but around here filet mignon ain’t cheap. But I did pay a lot less than I would have in a restaurant, and was able to sit down to dinner in only three to four times the amount of time!

I could not kick this filet out of bed for dripping sauce everywhere. I only wish I’d taken a picture of the interior which was, if I may pat myself on the back for a moment, cooked obscenely perfectly. The rich sauce paired beautifully with the buttery meat, and the sweet shallots were a lovely partner. The potatoes were as sickeningly good as only dishes involving a full cup of heavy cream can be.

Bourdain: I still don’t really like him, but I’ll still eat his food.

13 thoughts on “Smackdown: Call Me Peter Luger

  1. It’s a damn good thing I went out to dinner at a good restaurant tonight and had some amazing scallops over risotto, and am stuffed, else I would be crunching away on my screen right now and getting electrocuted and it would all be Your Fault! That looks marvelous. I want to know more about roasted shallots.

  2. One of my favorite side dishes is a recipe for whipped sweet potatoes that calls for 2 cups of heavy cream, which you reduce by half. I can only let myself eat it once a year or I start bleeding pure butterfat.

  3. Oh wow that looks amazing. Love those potatoes, I made them for Thanksgiving, they were the opposite of lumpy… I didn’t tell everyone that they were mainly butter and cream held together by potato.

  4. dee, and it was. oh yes.

    burkie, for you, any time.

    kay, roasted shallots are my new favorite thing. oven safe pan, shallots, 2 tbsp butter, cover with foil, roast at 325 until soft and brown. so, so good.

    anotherkate, dear god.

    erika, yeah, i didn’t tell brian, either. but i think he figured it out, although he’s in denial about it.

    claire, exactly.

    chessa, that’s why i got a big bottle.

    maryann, heh.

    theresa, you know, that’s not a bad idea. i do have leftovers…

  5. That looks gorgeous – better than a restaurant meal because you can eat it while hanging in comfy clothes. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I would pay BIG money for that plate, it looks perfect. I like Bourdain’s writing, can tolerate him on TV, but have never cooked his food….that may have to change. – S

  7. anita, so true! i think it was even yummier because i was wearing pajama pants.

    oui, chef, whereas i can’t tolerate him at all, but have cooked his food several times and found it to be exemplary.

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