Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My favorite meal

This is my favorite meal ever:

Bloody filet, baked potato with basil garlic compound butter, & boursin creamed spinach. Cheese pizza is a close second in the all-time favorite meal category. However, this has become the "celebration/holiday" meal at the French-Barrett household. This is our Christmas dinner of choice.

Mark & I are now spoiled with filets. At Trader Joe's, you can get a pound of beef tenderloin for about $10. Then you can chop it up into 4 thick filets. As a result, I no longer eat steak in restaurants unless someone else is paying. Sirloin, my former favorite, is just far too tough after you've had steak like this.

I will say that I come from a long list of women who like their meat cremated. With that said, I did not ever enjoy steak until I had it bloody.

Preparing this steak is a very simple process. Take out your cast iron skillet, get it screaming hot, salt & pepper your filets (they need no other seasoning, really), then put them in for a good 2-3 minutes each side, then finish them in the oven.

We cheat and use a meat thermometer that dings when they reach a perfect 140 degrees. Be careful not to over do it as the meat still continues to cook once you take it out of the oven, especially if you leave it in the skillet. Let the beef rest at least five minutes before cutting it or else you'll loose some juiciness (that's a technical term).

Meanwhile, I've baked the potatoes directly on an oven rack at 400 for about an hour.

Now, on to the spinach. That beautiful, magnificent spinach could happily make my last meal. The boursin cheese is a really treat, but it only costs $3 at TJ's. It's $6 at Kroger! So, if you're making this meal, source your ingredients from Trader Joe's. You're begging to be punished if you go elsewhere.

Boursin Creamed Spinach
(adapted from "Cuisine at Home")
(makes about 2 cups)


For the Spinach Filling:
1/2 cup diced onion (sometimes I use shallots, they're sweeter & milder than onion. They literally melt into the sauce)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 package (5.2 ounces) Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry of excess moisture
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
Salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste

For the Crumb Topping:
2/3 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (made from 2 slices firm white bread) (I always use panko)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a shallow 2-cup baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.

Saute onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes.
Add flour and stir to coat onion. Cook about 1 minute.
Gradually whisk milk and cream into onion mixture, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer sauce for 1 minute.
Stir in Boursin, a little at a time, until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Remove saucepan from heat.
Add spinach, Parmesan, zest, and seasonings. Transfer spinach mixture to prepared baking dish.

Combine crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, oil, salt and pepper. Top spinach with crumbs, pressing them to adhere. (Dish may be covered and chilled at this point to be baked later.)
Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until crumbs are golden and sauce is bubbly, 20-25 minutes.

Use an old towel to squeeze the moisture out of the spinach. I have a towel in my kitchen that is set aside for spinach squeezing alone. If you're going to have cooked spinach, frozen really is the best deal. It's one of my favorite frozen products, actually. I add it to all sorts of stuff, pasta sauce especially.

Sometimes I leave off the crumb topping, but if you're making this for someone truly special, add it. The crunch of the panko is quite nice. I've also made this with regular cream cheese & added in garlic & herbs. However, your best bet is with the boursin. It's a really nice treat.

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