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Filet Mignon w/Merlot reduction & Wild Mushrooms

Yield:  Serves 4
Two traditional and natural partners of steaks are red wine and wild mushrooms, and this recipe combines them in a succulent way. I like the soft, mellow tones of Merlot, but you can use a more robust, fruity Cabernet Sauvignon. Likewise, you can vary the type of mushrooms to accompany the steak- it all depends on seasonal availability and your personal preference. A mixture of mushrooms will also work well. The main thing is that their meaty texture and earthy tones complement both the filets and the wine sauce. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes or spicy mashed potatoes if you wish.
For the Merlot Sauce:
3 tablespoons light olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups good-quality merlot wine
3 bay leaves
Pinch of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 cups veal stock
For the Steaks:
4 filet mignon steaks, 7 to 8 ounces each
3 tablespoons light olive oil
For the Mushrooms:
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 pound wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, morels, or porcini
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery, and sauté over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and then stir in the bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce by half. Add the stock and return to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until reduced to about 2 cups of liquid. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean saucepan and keep warm.

Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the steaks to the hot pan, and sear over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare or about 7 minutes per side for medium. Remove the steaks from the pan and keep warm.

Add the shallots and mushrooms to the same pan and sauté over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly brown. Add the Merlot sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by half and in the butter until thoroughly incorporated. Add the parsley just before serving.

Place the steaks in the center of warm serving plates or shallow serving bowls and spoon the mushrooms and sauce over and around the filets. Serve immediately.

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