Filet Mignon Pontalba
This is a variation on chicken Pontalba, a dish created by the legendary chef Paul Blange in the early years of Brennan’s. I used the idea with steaks for a charity dinner where I didn’t think I could get away with serving a chicken dish as an entree. It was almost as good as with chicken. And the chicken version is so spectacular that a slight downtick still leaves a magnificent dish. It sounds like a lot of work (and maybe it is), but none of it is hard, and the dish wows people. It’s a great centerpiece for a handsome holiday dinner with family and friends.
- 3 lbs. white potatoes, peeled and sliced into small cubes
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 6 filet mignons, 6-8 oz. each
- 1/2 lb. smoky ham, cut into tiny dice
- 4 green onions, sliced thinly
- 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp. Tabasco
- 1 1/2 cups bearnaise sauce (see recipe)
1. Heat the oil to 375 degrees and fry the potato cubes until browned. Drain and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
2. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and broil the steaks, three at a time. They will stick to the pan, then release somewhat. At that point turn them with a metal spatula (not a fork) and cook the other side to the preferred degree of doneness. Add the remaining butter and broil the remaining steaks. Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven.
3. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Add the wine to the pan and whisk to dissolve the pan juices and browned bits. Let half the wine boil away, then add the ham, green onions, mushrooms, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Cook until the mushrooms are tender–about three minutes. Lower the heat as low as it will go.
4. Add the fried potatoes, and toss with the other ingredients to distribute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place a filet mignon on each warm serving plate. Scatter the pan contents around the steak. Spoon about 3 Tbs. bearnaise sauce over everything and serve immediately.