Mexico City 'Cantina Filet Mignon'
In an obscure area of Mexico City called 'Condesa' there is a little cantina called none other than 'La Cantina'. When you enter the place you immediately see a larger than life portrait of a woman hanging over the bar that looks like it was put there around 1950. There are a total of about 12 wooden tables, each with 4 wooden chairs and a long bar. The place is always packed. Back 40 years ago women were not allowed near a Cantina.. it was a place for men only. When we started going here when first married (25 yrs ago) women were 'allowed' but their presence was still a bit frowned upon. I suppose I got away with it because I went with men from our family and I was la 'guerita', the blonde one, so I probably didn't know any better.... and I was accepted and treated like a regular.
The point of a cantina is to drink copious amounts of liquor. So many cantinas will serve 'botanitas', little snacks and appetizers, to keep you in your seat ordering more and more rum and cokes. This cantina served the very very best botanitas ever.... someone's grandmother was in the back making fresh tortillas and whipping up quesadillas with epazote, tacos de chicharon, ate con queso (baked cheese with membrillo... that is a whole other post coming!) and these delicious morsels were all free as long as you kept ordering drinks, which of course, we always did. They served the best Bacardi and coke (or diet coke for me) 'puesto' which means they brought a highball glass with big ice cubes and about 4oz of rum... with the coke and limes on the side so each person could add as they wished... and also so you knew you were getting the amount of rum you paid for! Needless to say, after a couple of those the botanitas were very needed.
They also had one item on the menu that could be purchased. Their house special filet mignon. One try and I was totally hooked. I have made this for countless dinner parties and it is always a hit. People actually thank me for bringing it into their lives! Best of all it can be prepared hours before dinner and popped in the fridge then baked right before eating.
This filet bakes fast at 500 degrees and the combination of the juices from the steak, the bacon and the compound butter is absolutely amazing for sopping up with a fresh baguette or bolillio. I have found that here in NYC the closest bread in flavor and consistency that I have found to mimic the 'telera' bread they serve at The Cantina is a fresh baguette from Des Ambassades on Fredrick Douglass in West Harlem... but use your favorite soft baguette and you will be in food heaven!
Special equipment needed: oven proof glass dishes, or au gratin dishes, food processor.
Here is how to make it:
For the Compound Butter
2.5 sticks of salted butter at room temperature
1 large handful of fresh Italian parsley, lightly chopped
1 large handful of fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of a knife
1 fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper finely chopped
3/4 cup of yellow French's mustard (don't use dijon here, it has to be the 'cheap' mustard)
For the Steak
4 6-7 oz filet migon steaks
4 slices of bacon
4 stocks of celery, chopped
1 small can of whole jalapenos in escabeche (at least 8 whole jalapenos)
1 jar of green olives with pimentos
your favorite baguette for dipping
Preheat oven to 500 degrees
First, make the compound butter
In the bowl of a food processor add all ingredients for the butter and pulse until the herbs break down, the mustard mixes with the butter and you have a yellow butter with flecks of green.
Next, assemble the steaks
In four oven proof au gratin dishes evenly divide your prepared veggies: celery, canned jalapenos and olives.
Wrap each of the filets with a strip of bacon.
Nestle the steaks on top of the veggies, moving the veggies a little so the steaks about touch the bottom of the glass dish.
Next, dust the steaks with a pinch of salt and black pepper, then scoop about a 4oz ball of the butter and place on each steak. You will want to use 1/2 of the total amount of the butter here before baking and reserve the rest for serving.
Place the dishes on a baking sheet.
When the oven has reached 500, place the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes. At 15 min your steaks will come out medium rare to medium. If you like them more medium well, add 5 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet very carefully (very hot) and let rest for 3-4 min.
Serve immediately with an added scoop of the butter right on top of the steak and baguette for dipping.
Just wait for the thank you's from your fellow diners!
Bon Appetit, Enjoy, Provecho!
PS... if you are in the NY Tri-State area you can order this dish from www.jennieskitchennyc.com so you can enjoy it without all the work! We have this on our menu at least 3 times a year.