A Holiday Feast with Stew Leonard’s

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Cooking for the whole family this holiday season can be a bit overwhelming, so this morning Chef Chaz Fable stopped by our kitchen to show how Stew Leonard’s is making Christmas dinner a breeze.

As the temperature outside decreases, sales of filet mignon heat up at Stew Leonard’s. Filet mignon is the number one selling item year-round at Stew’s, and during the week leading up to Christmas, sales increase 60 percent. Customers line up in the meat section to have one of Stew Leonard’s 50 expertly-trained butchers custom-cut their beef tenderloin to their exact specifications.

Stew Leonard’s filet comes direct from ranchers in the Midwest. “Stew Leonard’s butchers and I have personally been to visit our ranchers throughout the Midwest and we’ve met their families,” said Stew Leonard Jr., president & CEO of Stew Leonard’s. “You won’t believe the buttery melt-in-your-mouth fork tender texture! This is restaurant-quality beef.”

Taken from the tenderloin, filet mignon is the most popular cut at steakhouses. It’s lean and fork-tender, with light marbling that makes it juicy and delicious. Here are some of Stew’s butchers’ tips for selecting and storing filet mignon:

A good rule of thumb to use when shopping for whole tenderloin is that one pound of untrimmed filet will feed one person.

When picking a filet, squeeze the meat and make sure it is soft-this means there is not a lot of fat. The softer it feels, and the more it bends, the better. A tenderloin that feels hard inside the package or does not bend as easily is higher in fat.

Store the tenderloin in the coldest part of the refrigerator-usually this is on the bottom shelf. Be sure to cook and serve the filet within three days to ensure its freshness.

While people love to serve filet mignon for holiday entertaining, the most frequently asked question customers ask is how to prepare it. One option is to purchase Stew’s Leonard’s oven-ready filet, which is trimmed, garnished with rosemary, and ready to be cooked. However, when Stew Leonard Jr. visited Kansas, his rancher friends suggested a great recipe for filet: the garlic browns on the outside of the beef and gives it a very special flavor, making it the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table.

Stew Leonard’s Ranchers’ Famous Filet Mignon with Garlic

1 Stew Leonard’s Famous Filet Mignon, hand trimmed by our expert butchers
Salt & pepper, to taste
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbs. Stew Leonard’s Olive Oil

Chop the garlic and mix it with the olive oil.
Make small slits around the filet and generously rub the garlic over the filet.
Cover the tenderloin with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 500° F.
Remove the plastic wrap and season the meat with salt and pepper.
Place the filet in a roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes. (This gives you a nice crust on the outside.) Reduce the heat to 450° F. Continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut into the steak to check for desired doneness, or use a cooking thermometer (140° to 150° is medium-rare).
Let the beef rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Open a Bottle of Wine and I’m Comin’ Over…
Since becoming a certified sommelier, Blake Leonard, daughter of Stew Leonard Jr. and a marketing consultant for Stew Leonard’s Wines & Spirits, has the honor of picking the wines to accompany the Leonard family’s holiday meals. “Since Filet Mignon is a leaner style of beef, I like wines that are medium-bodied in style, so that they won’t overpower the amazing flavors in the filet,” notes Blake. Here are Blake’s top three wine choices to serve alongside a filet mignon:

Delphis Fronsac (Fronsac, Bordeaux, France): Fronsac is located right next to St. Emilion (where they make mega-pricey, sought-after wines). My dad and I visited this winery this past summer. The vineyards are bio-dynamically farmed and all of their grapes are hand-picked. If someone at your dinner table likes Bordeaux, they’ll love this!

Bartoni Chianti Classico (Chianti, Tuscany, Italy): Made from the Sangiovese grape, this wine has bright red fruity and high acidity that will cut through the rich, buttery texture of filet.

Smith & Son Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California): This 2013 Napa Cabernet has power and elegance, lower alcohol and silky-smooth tannins. If you like a fuller-bodied red with your meat, here you go!

Far From Home for the Holiday?
Let friends and family know you’re thinking of them by sending four tender 6 oz. filet mignon steaks from StewLeonardsGifts.com. Each steak is approximately 2″ thick and are shipped fresh (not frozen) via next day air. To order, please click here.

Stew Leonard’s, a family-owned and operated fresh food store founded in 1969, has six stores in Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington, Conn. and in East Meadow, Farmingdale and Yonkers, N.Y. Stew’s earned its nickname, the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” because of its country-fair atmosphere, with costumed characters and animated entertainment throughout the store that keep children entertained while parents shop. Stew Leonard’s legion of loyal shoppers is largely due to the stores’ passionate approach to customer service: “Rule #1 — The Customer is Always Right”; Rule #2 – If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Re-Read Rule #1.” This principle is so essential to the foundation of the company that it is etched in a three-ton granite rock at each store’s entrance. The company’s culture is built around an acronym for S.T.E.W.: Satisfy the customer; Teamwork gets it done; Excellence makes it better; WOW makes it fun.

For more information, visit Stew Leonard’s website at www.StewLeonards.com.

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