I received a curious text from my wife the other day.
“When do you want to celebrate Father’s Day?” she asked.
“From maybe 7:01 a.m. to perhaps 11:59 p.m.?” I responded.
Or all weekend would be good.
We dads work like to make the most of this day. Honestly, we don’t want much. A good cup of coffee, a bowl of fresh berries, a slice of bacon to start our day. Maybe a round of golf after that or a nice hike in one of our many amazing parks with our family, followed by a simple grill-out. Nothing fancy, just the basics. A fine steak, a good beer. Happy, happy, happy.
I learned that she really was asking, “When should I tell our company to be here?” We will be honoring her father Les and our friend Bill with a cookout, serving fine steak and some good beer. They are, after all, top-notch fathers that mean a lot to our family and they deserve a really fine steak.
I have been thinking about this steak for a while. There are so many steak cuts, so many different grades and, honestly, so few places to find the perfect one. Sometimes you head out looking for a good steak to cook on your own grill for dinner and you come home with sausages.
I have always been a filet mignon guy. True steak lovers like my sophomore in high school would say a rib cut has the best flavor and a nice tomahawk ribeye certainly has the right plate presence. It is full of marbled fat that gives great beef flavor that extra "yum" factor.
For Father’s Day, I am going to cook a whole tenderloin (filet mignon). For me, this is the ultimate in tenderness and presentation for a larger group. What it lacks in flavoring from the fat content it makes up for in melt-in-your-mouth appeal.
Now, I just need to search out the actual tenderloin. For an occasion as important as this, I want the best, which means only USDA Prime will do. But, since Prime accounts for only the top 2 percent of all beef cuts and mostly goes to quality restaurants, I may have to settle for the next best option, USDA Choice. I will have spent a few hours earlier this week, before you read this column, calling butchers, visiting a few and finding the perfect tenderloin.
To prepare it, I will cook it in my Traeger pellet grill. I will cook mine on high for 15 minutes, then 375 for about 30 minutes or until my inserted temperature probe reaches 135 degrees. Any grill with an indirect heat set up will do just fine, though. However you cook it, you want the outside edge to have a nice crust with lots of flavor and the inside to be consistent throughout and about 135 degrees when you remove it from the grill. This will give you a nice medium to medium-rare when you slice and serve it.
To achieve a nice crust, make sure you start with a tenderloin that was left out uncovered for an hour to come to room temperature and dry out moisture from the outside surface. Also, you need to season it on all sides about a half hour before it goes on the grill. I use kosher salt, garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper and, typically, some barbecue rub (usually a combination of paprika, cumin, garlic and salt).
Since you are only seasoning the outside of this large piece of meat, be generous. Filet mignon has less marbled fat than other cuts and needs the extra flavor boost. Let the tenderloin sit and rest for 10 minutes, then serve sliced thin on a nice decorative platter for all to choose from. Perhaps have a peppercorn sauce (Au Poivre) and a Bernaise on the side for sauces.
Of course, if you have a grill going for an hour, you might as well cook some nice-sized baked potatoes rolled in olive oil and sea salt at the same time, right? That skin will be the best part after an hour on a grill. Maybe start those 15 minutes ahead.
Whether you are dining at a local steakhouse that serves USDA Prime steaks and great baked potatoes or cooking them at home, may your Father’s Day be filled with simple family time and lots of hugs.
And remember to take that hike!