Pan-seared beef filet with pearled barley salad

Steak and barley—nothing odd about this couple

Originally appeared in the August 11, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

Just because you hear the word “steak” doesn’t automatically imply “heavy.”  Today, I’m talking about filet mignon—appealing to stout appetites in the mood for something filling, yet dainty enough to guard off guilt.  And buying this coveted cut of beef doesn’t mean breaking the bank.  A thick, center-cut filet will do the trick for a duo of diners.  This is a summertime dish, after all.  Read more here:I usually discuss the application of contrasts in terms of flavor.  But today, I mean to focus on temperature.  In the hot zone is our aforementioned steak, and over in the cold corner you have a chilled pearled barley salad.  Filet is a tender cut of beef, but it’s oft times bland.  No worries—this accompaniment makes up for it.

Pearl barley is hulled and polished grains, undergoing about five or six polishing procedures.  During this process, the grain has its germ extracted, along with a small amount of vitamins and minerals.  Yet despite this, pearled barley remains an excellent source of iron, zinc, folic acid, B6, and thiamine.  What’s more, it’s a high quality source of dietary fiber.  Not to mention a nice change of pace on your summertime plate.

Pan-seared filet with pearled barley salad

Serves 2

  • 1 center-cut filet
  • 1 cup pearled barley, dry
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 quart of water or stock, warm
  • 2 ounces balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces olive oil
  • Pinch sugar
  • ½ large cucumber, peeled, seeded, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  In a small pot, heat oil and add dry pearled barley, coating each grain with fat.  Pour in warm water or stock, bring to a steady boil and cover.  Allow pearled barely to cook for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain, and “shock” in ice-cold water.  Thoroughly strain from cold water and place in large bowl.  For vinaigrette: in a separate bowl, pour in balsamic, and slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.  Add pinch sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir in a small amount in pearled barley.  Allow barley to absorb vinaigrette before adjusting with more.  Add in cucumber, fresh herbs, feta, and tomatoes.  Place in fridge to chill.

2.  Season both sides of filet with salt and pepper.  Heat oven to 400° F.  Meanwhile, in an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat with a small amount of oil, sear filet on all sides until achieving mahogany color.  Place pan in oven to finish cooking to desired doneness (medium rare is around 140° F.).  Let steak rest for ten minutes before slicing and serving atop chilled pearled barley salad.

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