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Friday, February 21, 2020

Several years ago, I discovered petit filet, a cut that seemed too good to be true. This flavorful tenderloin section of beef shoulder is as ideal for a busy weeknight as it is for entertaining. Petit filet is cut from the teres major muscle along the blade of the shoulder. The cut reminds one of filet mignon but at one-fourth the price, the difference between buttery soft filet mignon and exquisitely tender petit filet becomes delightfully irrelevant.

The two filets I purchased weighed a total of 1.25 pounds. One was far thicker than the other so I sliced it lengthwise to even out the size and cooking time. If you plan on serving dinner for four, my suggestion is that you order four filets. If necessary, split the larger ones. I adore leftovers, and this cut is absolutely perfect served the next day. Roasted just long enough to keep a pink center, cold petit filet slices up beautifully for a late night snack, the following’s day’s luncheon platter, or the perfect protein addition atop a green salad.

I prepared these filets with a crust of fresh herbs mixed with gluten-free panko crumbs. The following measurements are sufficient for the three pieces totaling 1.25 pounds.

What You Need:

One rectangular Pyrex casserole

One foil-lined jellyroll pan or roasting pan fitted with a flat rack

1.25 pounds petit filet of beef

1 packed cup fresh, young herbs: oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, and rosemary, cleaned, patted dry, and finely chopped

½ tsp. three of the following dried herbs: savory, oregano, sage, or thyme

1 C. gluten-free panko crumbs

1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped

1 ½ T. mayonnaise

1 ½ T. Dijon mustard

Fresh ground pepper

Olive oil for drizzling

What to Do:

In a small bowl, blend the Dijon and mayonnaise.

Place the filets in the Pyrex dish. Grind fresh pepper over the meat. Spread the Dijon and mayonnaise mixture on all sides of the meat. Place in refrigerator for several minutes while you prepare the herb, garlic, and Panko coating.

In a medium bowl, mix the finely chopped fresh herbs with the dried herbs, the garlic, and the panko. Mix only until blended; you want to avoid creating a paste.

Remove the petit filets from the refrigerator. Cover each filet evenly and completely with the herb and crumb mixture. Return the meat to the refrigerator, uncovered. These steps can be completed up to 12 hours in advance.

Forty minutes before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge. Carefully transfer the chilled filets to the roasting pan rack. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Lightly drizzle the crusted filets with a dash of olive oil. Place the roasting pan in the center of the oven and bake the filets for 20 minutes. To check for doneness, press gently on the top of a filet. It should offer just enough resistance to indicate that the center will still be medium rare. If your finger sinks into the meat too much, cook for several more minutes. Be careful not to overcook these filets. They are slender and lean, and can dry out if neglected.

Allow the meat to rest for ten minutes before serving.

I like to serve the filets cut diagonally in half, exposing the succulent center and contrasting crust.

The filets I prepared for this recipe were plated with sautéed onions and scallions mixed with a brown rice blend. I served horseradish sauce alongside, a favorite condiment that gave the meat just the right kick for this family.

Petit filet can be served with just about any side dish your family enjoys. Whether roasted potatoes, quinoa, sautéed broccoli, fresh summer corn, autumn acorn squash, or a rice pilaf, choose a side that is lightly seasoned. The meat has a lovely flavor, one that you will not want to overpower with too much garlic or heavy spices. A light green salad with a citrus dressing, warm bread, and your favorite wine round off an easily prepared, elegant meal.

Enjoy!