Hard to believe it’s been one year since our two week vacation across Italy. It was an out of this world experience full of some of the most amazing cuisine and culture I’ll probably ever experience. One of our favorite and most unique dinners was at this restaurant called Acqua Al 2, in Florence. The restaurant is known for it’s beef, specifically their balsamic and blueberry glazed steaks.
I wanted to try both famous variations, so I ordered two petite filets that were covered in a thick balsamic-heavy red wine sauce and a sweet blueberry sauce. Both were delicious, but I think I liked the balsamic steak the most. A tender rare filet covered with a thick, tangy, and slightly sweet reduction comprised of red wine and balsamic vinegar (if I had to guess!).
To be honest, I was very skeptical of both steaks at first. I’m typically a guy who doesn’t like his steaks over complicated or heavily flavored. And in what world are we putting blueberry sauce on steak?? It’s very different but admittedly VERY good—and the epitome of sweet and savory.
If you’ve never cooked filet mignon via the stove top and oven method, it’s very simple. Sear filets 2 minutes per side on the stove top in a cast iron skillet on high heat with butter or oil and then immediately transfer to preheated oven at 415° F.
I typically bake the filets for about 5-6 minutes for medium rare. That’s the beauty of cast iron, you can easily transfer from stove top to oven. This method always yields consistent results and I promise it will be the best steak you’ve ever made.
How I Prepare My Balsamic and Red Wine Sauce
My secret to cooking filet mignon in a red wine and balsamic sauce or reduction is the thickness of the sauce. Too thin and it lacks any sort of consistency. I added a little brown sugar to help it caramelize and give the sauce a little extra sweetness that pairs really well with a nicely seasoned steak. My other suggestion is to not go too lite on the sauce when serving. You want to apply a generous coating to each steak so it runs down the side of the filet and complements each and every bite. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and lightly simmer until reduced by half. If you let it sit for a few minutes after removing from the heat, it will thicken. Remember, this is a balsamic forward sauce!
Lastly, I prepare the balsamic reduction in the same skillet as the steaks, so it soaks up the juices and butter drippings from skillet. This speeds up the process and also adds more flavor. Pair filets with mashed potatoes and a nice Chianti Classico and you’ve got yourself a beautiful Florence inspired dinner.Print
- 2 6-8 ounce tenderloin beef filets (roughly 2 inches thick)
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped parsley or rosemary garnish (optional)
Balsamic and red wine reduction
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (I like Chianti)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 415° F. Remove steak from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, this is to bring the steak to room temperature and ensure your cooking times are more accurate. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Combine all balsamic and red wine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of butter to an oven safe cast iron skillet and turn up high, allow the skillet to become very hot first. Once the butter melts, place the filets face down and sear undisturbed for 2 minutes. Flip the filets and sear for an additional 2 minutes. This will give your filets a nice seared edge.
- Transfer your skillet directly to the oven. [WARNING] skillet may be hot, handle with oven mitts. For rare, bake for 4-5 minutes. Medium rare, 5-6 minutes. Medium, 6-7 minutes. Remember, depending on the thickness/size of the steak, the more or less time it may take. This recipe is ideal for a 6-8 ounce portion, roughly 2-3 inches thick. Remove filets from the skillet and set on a plate, lightly tent with tin foil and set aside.
- Return the hot skillet to a burner on medium-high heat. Add the balsamic and red wine sauce to the skillet and mix with the butter drippings. Simmer, whisking occasionally until mixture reduces by half and slightly thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Immediately serve each filet topped with 3-4 tablespoons of balsamic and red wine sauce. Top with minced parsley or rosemary if desired.
Temperatures for steak
Rare: 120° F to 125° F
Medium rare: 125° F to 130° F
Medium: 135° F to 140° F
Medium well: 145° F to 150° F
Well done: 160° F and above