I feel really guilty saying this, but I’m in Vail, Colorado right now. I can hardly breath it’s so beautiful. Everyone is telling me that the breathlessness is due to the high altitude. But I’m telling you, when someone says this place is breathtaking, it’s not because it sits 8120 feet above sea level, it’s because the Aspen trees twinkle in the sun, crystal clear rivers run through the valley, and the most handsome alpine mountains entice even the laziest of lazies to go for a three-hour hike to the top where they’ll be greeted with a cold beer and a free gondola ride back down to the bottom.
Needless to say, I like it here. And despite an overwhelming number of fancy restaurants in which to dine, I still feel like cooking. And having just finished the first book on my summer reading list, my signed copy of chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood Bones and Butter, in which she spends the last third describing her summer vacations to Italy and cooking zucchini in every delicious way imaginable for three weeks straight, I couldn’t get my mind off of zucchini with Italian influence. And since Colorado seems into it’s beef, it seemed appropriate to combine the two.
Filet Mignon with Zucchini, Onions, and Balsamic Reduction
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp red wine (Pinot Noir)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 shallot, peeled and halved
- 1 tbsp butter, cut into 2 pieces
- 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large white onion, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 3 large zucchini, trimmed and sliced 3/4 inch thick
- 4 filets mignon (4-6 oz each)
Begin by making the reduction. In a saucepan, cook wine, vinegar, and shallot over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove the beef filets from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. While the sauce is reducing heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat pan. When the pan is very hot, use tongs to add the onion rings and cook until charred, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and place on paper towel covered plate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more oil to hot skillet, if needed, and using tongs, place the zucchini in pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until browned. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel covered plate. Using your hands, rub the beef with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, remove the reduced sauce from heat and discard the shallot. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm until the steaks are finished cooking. Sear the filets on the hot skillet for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Arrange 3 zucchini ovals on each of 4plates. Place 3 or 3 onion rings over zucchini. Place a filet on top of onion. Spoon the ssauce around each filet, top with a few more onion rings and serve.