So the actual title of this post is “Tenderloin Steaks with Gorgonzola and Herbs and Roasted Garlic and Grape Tomato Pasta with Basil and Arugula,” but I thought that was a bit much. I can’t count myself among Rachael Ray’s fans, but I did try a recipe of hers by that title on Saturday night.
I so rarely treat Dr. O to steak (I think this goes back to the fact that we don’t have a grill) and Central Market had a great coupon, so I splurged and bought some top-notch filet mignon. I’m extra pleased that the end result justified the cost of the meat.
Rachael Ray bills this as a “quick” meal, but I have a hard time prepping AND cooking at the same time the first time I try a recipe. I like to have everything I need prepped and waiting to be tossed into the pot or pan at the right moment. Therefore, I started by making my herb-and-cheese topping, rather than trying to cook pasta, roast tomatoes, chop herbs, and prep steaks at the same time.
I only made a half recipe since there were just two of us, so double all the ingredients if you’re cooking for 4. I chopped one scallion (white and green parts), thinly sliced 5 fresh sage leaves, and finely chopped a handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley. I combined the scallion and herbs with 4 ounces of Gorgonzola crumbles and set the mixture aside. I also grated 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded 10 fresh basil leaves, and chopped 1 cup of arugula to use later for the pasta.
Next, I boiled 8 ounces of penne rigate according to package instructions, using the minimum cooking time. (It ends up sitting in a hot sauce later in the recipe, so keeping the cooking time to a minimum prevents soggy pasta.) While that cooked, I lined a baking sheet with foil and tossed 1 pint of grape tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic (cracked but left in skins), and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil together on the sheet. I seasoned the tomatoes and garlic with salt and pepper and roasted them for 20 minutes at 450 F.
In the meantime, the pasta finished cooking. I drained it, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking water for the sauce, and put it in a covered pot to keep it warm. I also prepped my two steaks by rubbing them with a peeled, halved garlic clove, seasoning them with salt and pepper, and rubbing them lightly with olive oil.
When there were about 5 minutes left on the tomatoes, I heated my cast iron skillet over high heat and cooked the steaks for a minute and a half per side to caramelize the meat. I removed the skillet from the heat and topped the steaks with the Gorgonzola-herb mixture.
This is where things got hairy.
At this point, I was supposed to take the tomatoes out of the oven, put the skillet with the steaks in the oven, turn the oven heat off, and let the steaks cook for 4 – 5 minutes in the still-hot oven. Rachael said, “The Gorgonzola will melt down over the meat and the steaks will be tender and pale pink inside.”
She recommended tenderloin steaks that were 1 1/4-inch thick. I had an extra 1/4 inch on mine, maybe. When I used my digital thermometer fork to check the steaks after 6 minutes (not even 4 or 5), my meat was at a whopping 96 F. Not good.
I ended up turning my oven back on (at 450 F) and checking my steaks every 3 minutes. My smaller steak ended up needing an extra 9 minutes to get to medium; Dr. O’s took 12.
To put a positive spin on the delay, this did give me extra time to finish the pasta (though that was quick and easy, actually). I removed the roasted garlic from the skins and mashed it into a paste using a fork. I transferred the garlic paste to a pasta bowl and added the 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water. I whisked the garlic and water together with my fork to make a garlic broth. Next, I added the roasted tomatoes to the bowl and mashed them with a potato masher until a sauce formed. I added the cooked penne, grated cheese, arugula, and basil and tossed until the ingredients were well combined.
When my steaks had finally finished cooking, I served them with the pasta.
Despite my complaints about things not going as planned, this meal was absolutely delicious. The super fresh pasta sauce – not a canned ingredient in sight! – was exceptional. This would be a great recipe for Valentine’s Day, if you’re planning anything special. Just make sure you allow extra cooking time for the meat.
TIPS: I just kind of guessed at what Rachael meant when she said to crack the garlic cloves but leave them in the skins. I just bent each clove “backwards” until I heard a snap. I was amazed at how easily the cooked garlic came out of the skins this way.
Also, it seems like you make a heck of a lot of cheese topping for 2 (or 4) steaks, but you’ll need it. I lost a bit to the skillet when I initially topped the steaks, and then I appreciated having a bit extra to add during my extended cooking time.
Recipe link: Tenderloin Steaks with Gorgonzola and Herbs