how to make a perfect filet mignon roast

…or, how the we-eat-everything sisters spent their Thanksgiving.

This delectable specimen of a filet mignon roast is brought to you by Ottomanelli’s & Sons, one of those almost landmark New York butchers that seems to have been around forever, and whom everyone seems to go whenever they need a quality cut of meat. As our parents were in Taiwan this year at the end of November (and thus did not host Thanksgiving) I journeyed east for Thanksgiving in New York. Originally my sister wanted for us to do prime rib but there were only going to be 4 people at our Thanksgiving dinner and the smallest cut of prime rib the butcher showed us was still too large to feed 3 Chinese people and 1 white man. I should mention that the butcher was probably the super nicest butcher I have ever run into. There were a ton of people in the shop clearly there to pick up their Thanksgiving turkeys and the line was snaking rapidly outside the door while big sis and I hemmed and hawed about what kind of meat we should buy. He recommended the filet mignon roast cut instead. We hemmed and hawed some more. The line continued to build. People gave us dirty looks. An elderly customer with a thick New York accent wouldn’t stop inquiring about how many we were feeding, what we wanted to do with the roast, giving us advice, etc. Finally we decided on the filet mignon roast. As the line still continued to build out the door, the butcher patiently explained to us exactly how we should cook it, for how long, what I should coat it with, etc. As we were leaving, the elderly gentleman who’d been asking us questions before leaned over in a conspiratory manner and whispered, “You made the right choice, girls.”

The butcher advised us to leave the fat on during the roasting process to lend richer flavour to the roast. We decided to roast in a cast iron skillet to collect all the drippings so we could also make gravy. He recommended we coat the outside with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and peppercorns, and “gahhhlic, if you laike that kinda thang” (sorry, I am very amused by New York accents). The meat should be roasted at 350 for 40 minutes. However we had a lot of doubts once I started googling roast recipes, and we also had some adventures with faulty meat thermometers making us think the roast was first severely undercooked, then massively overcooked, which more or less resulted in my sister running around yelling about how Thanksgiving was ruined now. Granted she is also pregnant and hormonal so I guess we can’t really blame her.

Thankfully the butcher was right on target, we should have trusted him from the start, as we more or less ended up cooking the meat at 350 for about 40 minutes. The fat and the salt/pepper/garlic coating slipped right off during the carving process. The meat inside was nicely seasoned and very tender and succulent, just the right amount of rare and just the right amount of cooked. THANKSGIVING WAS NOT RUINED AFTER ALL. I’m sorry Mr. Butcher we should have never doubted you!

Gravy made from the drippings of the roast deglazed with chicken stock and with cornstarch added to thicken it up. We also made horseradish sauce to go with the meat.

A massive amount of mac n cheese we made following a City Bakery recipe that included a blend of 3 different cheeses. Unfortunately we forgot to add salt in the process so it was a bit undersalted.

Kale to offset the richness of the whole meal. UNPICTURED BECAUSE I FORGOT TO TAKE PHOTOS: the very delectable garlic mashed potatoes our little brother made with almost a whole bulb of roasted garlic and an obscene amount of butter, and the 43985384578934759834 gougeres we made the day before that I couldn’t stop eating, to the point where my sister had to hide them from me. The next day all the leftovers were repurposed into brunch. Thanksgiving! It only comes once a year so you better believe that I take what I can get.

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