Saturday, February 8, 2014

Surf & Turf: Steak Oscar with Duchess Potatoes - My "I Love You" Romantic Dinner at Home

Valentine's Day is just a week away, and it holds a special place in my heart, because my husband chose that day to propose to me. We were married, almost one year later, on New Year's Day. For my husband, he's thankful that he has two anniversary dates that are easy to remember!

As much as I enjoy dining at a fine restaurant, I prefer to avoid the busiest nights of the year-- such as Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve.  Menu prices tend to skyrocket, and I don't want to feel rushed. In the last few years, I've begun a new tradition of preparing a fancy schmancy dinner at home.  Just the two of us. Soft music, a fire, a bottle of Prosecco or wine. Candles.  No reservations needed, and no noise.

As an added bonus, my husband always does the cleanup, and he never complains.  For so many reasons, I feel like the luckiest wife.  That is why it is my joy to make a special dinner for the two of us.

HUNGER ALERT: Yes, this is going to seem like a pretty long post.  I need to explain how to make all of the components, so here we go!

It's been many, many years, since I first had "Veal Oscar". It was the "Prince of Wales"" at the Hotel del Coronado, in the 70's.  My palate was still young and unrefined, but I remember the combination of the veal, crab, asparagus and Béarnaise sauce as being one of the most memorable dinners of my young life.  I always longed to have this dish again, though I never did return to that restaurant -- and I think it has  recently closed.

My husband really appreciates a good cut of filet Mignon, as do I.  At home, it's a very easy dinner to prepare. Last year, I served it with Broiled Lobster Tail.  I caught a Food Network episode of "The Pioneer Woman" , sometime in December, and watched her make "Steak Oscar".  I thought it was clever that she used  shrimp, asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce with Steak, instead of veal.   I don't buy veal, any longer, so I liked the idea of using filet Mignon.  Instead of shrimp, I decided to use crab. I prefer Alaskan King Crab, because it's easier to eat and a lot meatier. Yum!

For a side dish, I made Yukon Gold Duchess Potatoes.  I think of these as "naked twice-baked potatoes". To make them, I scaled down  my "Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes" recipe and piped the potato rounds, on a well buttered baking pan.  I stuck the pan into the freezer, while I prepared the main course. Why freeze them?

The answer is: so that I can brush a little melted butter on top, and not risk losing their shape. (Yes, you can use a zip-lock bag with a corner cut out, if you don't have a pastry bag with a large tip.)

I use Ina Garten's technique for preparing Filet Mignon, by searing the meat, then roasting it in the oven. Adding two pats of unsalted butter, before placing them inside the oven, adds an additional layer of richness (and calories).  I don't want to risk overcooking this expensive cut of meat, so I use both a thermometer with a probe and double check the doneness with my ultra-accurate and trustworthy Therma-Pen.

For the Béarnaise sauce, I adapted my Blender Hollandaise sauce, by reducing Tarragon Vinegar with finely chopped tarragon (which grows in our garden). I left out the traditional shallots, but I might add those next time.

While this might seem complicated-- having to cook the steak, make a sauce, steam the crab, roast the asparagus and make Duchess Potatoes-- it really wasn't!  I had this dinner, on the table, in less than an hour!  Of course, you need to be able to multi-task to coordinate that everything is ready at the same time.

This is where Mis en Place comes in handy-- plus, the Duchess potatoes can be made in advance. I even freeze them, and store them in a Zip-Loc bag.  

I can easily pop them, still frozen,  into a 350F oven, for about 20 minutes, and have an instant side dish that tastes as good as the day I first made them!

 In my opinion, Yukon Gold potatoes are my top choice for making mashed potatoes.

For the assembly: The Duchess potatoes baked right next to the skillet of Filet Mignons, so those went on a pre-heated plate, first. I piled on the roasted asparagus, then a King Crab leg, and then...

...the Béarnaise sauce.  It feels wonderful to present a dinner, like this, to my husband. He so appreciates it, and that makes me happy. Let the romance begin continue...

TASTING NOTES:  There are times when I have to pat myself on the back. This is one of them. The steak was cooked to perfection (medium-rare).  The asparagus was al dente, the King Crab was a rare treat for us-- the sauce... so fast and simple, and it really brings the whole dish together.  I absolutely adore the mild anise flavor of tarragon.  The cost of making this dinner was at least half of what we would have paid at a restaurant.  Enjoying this, at home, and seeing my husband's delight in eating it is priceless.

For dessert,  this Coeur ala Creme with a Raspberry Chambourd Sauce is a perfect for Valentine's Day!

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here. If you still can't figure out how to view the printable recipe card, please email me at and I am happy to help.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pin It


Big Dude said...

I can see it’s a special treat being your valentine – that meal looks fantastic and it was worth the read to learn about it. This is the perfect surf and turf for our taste, especially Bev, since it contains her favorite beef cut and seafood. We ate at a place in Isla Of Capri, FL that served their potatoes that way and I really enjoyed them – I’m a Yukon Gold person as well. When we get home I’d like to make the meal just as you did.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful meal and I'm sure it is appreciated.

Joanne said...

Aww I didn't realize your husband had proposed on V-Day! That is sooo sweet! This meal you're planning for him sounds absolutely lovely.

Karen said...

I'm with you... would much rather stay home and cook a special dinner for special occasions. This looks wonderful!

Lauren jonczak said...

Wow, this dish looks right out of a magazine. I love to cook romantic dinners for my husband, I feel it means more when it comes from the heart. I have great organic steaks that I have been saving for a special occasion and since our 6 year anniversary is coming up I thought I would make him something really nice. This is the perfect dish. I have never even heard of duchess potatoes before, I can't wait to give these a try. Thanks for the recipe Debby.