|Blue Cheese Crusted Filet of Beef with Spring Mushroom Orzo Risotto|
King Cole blue cheese from Upper Bench Winery is an excellent choice. You could even add pecans or walnuts to this versatile topping. Just keep the ratio about ½ breadcrumbs and ½ other stuff. Plus enough oil to hold it together. This mixture is finished on top of the steaks and you get a crunchy, cheesy topping which I think is a great contrast to the very tender steak. Next time I will make the topping a little thinner but I didn't want to waste a drop.
I served it with a risotto twin made with tiny, rice-shaped orzo pasta instead of rice. Orzo absorbs liquid and flavour much like rice, but unlike traditional risotto, this recipe doesn't need to be stirred obsessively for a perfectly al dente, creamy result. I had early Spring morel mushrooms in mind but had to settle what was available. Blue cheese, earthy mushrooms, tender stalks of asparagus with a light touch of butter, and a glass of Sveigelt and I don't think it can any better than this.
**Blue Cheese Crusted Filet of Beef**
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 sirloin or tenderloin steaks (4-6 oz each)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Allow the steaks to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to equalize the internal temperature for more even cooking.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Preheat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, blue cheese, parsley, and rosemary or thyme, and a splash of olive oil in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Season the filets well with salt and pepper and rub them with vegetable oil. Carefully position them in the hot pan and sear for a minute or so on each side, leaving the interiors raw and cool. Do not move them for about 90 seconds, in order to ensure a nice crust. Using tongs, carefully brown all sides of the steak, each time allowing the crust to form before disturbing the steaks. Because the meat will be protected by a crust and will finish cooking in a relatively cool oven, this is your only chance to add caramelized flavour to the meat.
Brush steaks on top with a thin coat of mustard to allow the bread crumb topping to adhere. Top each with a quarter of the bread crumb mixture, using your fingers to gently press it into the meat. Transfer the steaks to the oven to finish cooking (ideally in the pan if it's oven-proof, but if not, a baking sheet or dish will do). The steaks should be done in 5 to 6 minutes, when they feel firm but still springy to the touch (an internal thermometer should read 135°F for medium-rare -140 °F for medium. This should happen at the same time that the bread crumbs have browned nicely and formed a crust. Let the steaks rest for a few minutes before serving. Watch carefully, they will burn quickly. Check after 2 minutes; my steaks took about 3 minutes to get the topping brown and bubbly.
330 calories, 17 g fat (6 g saturated), 600 mg sodium
**Spring Mushroom Orzo Risotto**
3 tablespoons butter
12 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (morels if possible)
3/4 cup chopped shallots or onion
2 cups dried orzo pasta
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch frying pan over high heat. Add 12 ounces sliced mushrooms and 3/4 cup chopped shallots or onion; cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are lightly browned, 9 to 12 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add 2 more tablespoons butter and 2 cups dried orzo pasta; stir often until pasta is light golden, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and allow to reduce minimally.
Add 3 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until pasta is tender to bite and most of the liquid is absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes. If mixture becomes too thick before pasta is done, add a little more broth.
Stir in 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon risotto into wide bowls and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and more parmesan cheese to taste.