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Valentines day dinner for wife who likes her steak "well done."

I'm cooking dinner for my wife on Valentine's day, and I know she prefers her steak well done (basically, she doesn't want to see red--she calls that "well done" but perhaps I can get away with medium/medium well). I wanted to do something special, like filet mignon, but I'm worried that it won't be very good if I cook it to her specifications. I also want to make a bearnaise sauce because, well, it's amazing and I've never made it before.
Do you think I'd be better off choosing a different cut? What cut would you recommend that would be OK cooked past medium rare and would also take the bearnaise sauce well?
Also, can you recommend some quick sides? I won't have much time to make the meal as I get out of work somewhat late...

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  1. Ribeye has more marbling, so it can bring the flavor and perhaps remain tender as you cook the life out of it ;-)
    But, it really depends of what your wife likes. If filet "wows" her, then do filet, by all means.
    Sides? Simple oven roasted brussel sprouts, asparagus, or cauliflower.
    What's nice about an oven roasted veg. is that you just put it on a baking sheet with evoo, s+p and let the oven do the work while you attend to other things.
    Pommes Anna can be made ahead of time and reheated later.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      I'd never heard of Pommes Anna. Just spent 10 minutes salivating over various recipes online. Thank you for educating me!

    2. Filet is the least flavorful cut, since it has almost no marbling, and cooking it to well done or thereabouts is going to make it even more tasteless. Maybe a boneless ribeye? And the bearnaise sauce is a good ideal, regardless.

      SIdes? Pommes frites, of course. And a sprig of watercress if you're so inclined.

      1. You *could* even do frozen fries as a side.
        DH and I love Zesties, and I'm not proud, so yeah, I eat and really enjoy them!

        Lucky wife, btw!

        1 Reply
        1. re: monavano

          Gosh I miss those Zestie fries.

        2. How about beef stroganoff? It is usually made with filet so it is a quick dish to put together. Serve it with egg noodles and a salad.
          Bearnaise, hollandaise, beurre blanc are good with fish as well. I think butter sauces go well with most proteins and vegetables.

          12 Replies
          1. re: DowntownJosie

            never heard of stroganoff being made with filet mignon, but anything is possible.

            op, does your wife actually like steak? many who order meat well done don't actually care for the flavor. if she does like it? cook it the way she likes if this meal is for her. :)

            steamed broccoli or green beans make a quick side dish. as do sauteed mushrooms.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              I never make my beef stroganoff with anything BUT filet mignon -- used the recipe out of The Gourmet Cookbook the first time I made it and it was so good I never looked for another.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Stroganoff is generally made with tenderloin aka filet. What kind of beef to you use for your stroganoff?

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Following my mother's example, starting in the mid-50s, I have never made Stroganoff with anything but beef tenderloin. It is an excellent use for those of us who buy a whole tenderloin and trim it ourselves. The odd bits make terrific stroganoff. You are doing a grand thing for your wife. Fear not, Bearnaise is quite do-able. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of "blender Bearnaise" recipes out there; of course you can adapt a blender Hollandaise as well.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Two of my Russian cookbooks and Cooking of Russia- all recipes call for filet mignon(tenderloin)for the Stroganoff.
                      The only way I make it,very delish.

                      1. re: grangie angie

                        filet indeed is cut from the tenderloin, but i guess it wouldn't occur to me to smother something that spendy.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          So if you don't use tenderloin aka filet for stroganoff, what *do* you use?

                            1. re: monavano

                              would be more inclined to use sirloin yes, but honestly i do not like stroganoff. at. all.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I love just about anything with sour cream ;-)
                                btw, I recently learned of a great way to stabilize sour cream so that it doesn't break when adding to finish a dish, such as this (from CI's Chicken Fricassee recipe).
                                Add a bit of sauce to an egg yolk to temper, then add that mix to the dish.
                                It's been working really well for me.

                  2. Are you committed to cooking a beef dish?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: grampart

                      yes, even more precisely I'm committed to steak...

                    2. Steak Diane (ribeye or striploin well marbled as mentioned) with butter sauteed Pleurotte mushrooms and lightly braised brussel sprouts tossed with a bit of lemon juice and grated parmesan.
                      Earthy cab/merlot.

                      1. Can you grill? Meaning, are you somewhere where there isn't a million feet of snow like by me? If you can grill, I like steak well done and I often make grilled flank steak. I will eat the thinner sliced near the ends and my husband will eat the thicker slices from the middle that stay more medium.

                        Not sure about the sauce though since when I cook marinated flank steak, it doesn't need sauce.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I would do at least one side that has some moisture to help with a well-done steak. Maybe a good mac and cheese.

                          A medium-well filet wouldn't be too bad if you have a nice béarnaise. I'd do that or a ribeye (especially if you can get a prime grade cut).

                          1. You could also do flank, flap or even skirt steak and here's why: Generally, these steaks are uneven in thickness. Some parts get done more than others. You could sear/grill a nice piece of steak and slice it up, portioning out more "done" for her, and less "done" for you.
                            Win, win.
                            Oh, and win again- they're pretty cheap, yet delicious cuts.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: monavano

                              I'm not sure I'd serve any of those cuts well done.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                *I* wouldn't serve any steak well done.
                                His wife LIKES steak well done. My suggestion is to cook a steak that can have different levels of doneness and not pay $$ for filet mignon that's going to be cooked to death and not have much flavor to begin with to boot.

                                1. re: monavano

                                  Sorry, I see your point. Give her what she wants even if it's not desired by most. Best of both worlds.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    I did something similar for my brother and his family.
                                    They came to visit and I wanted to give them a steak dinner because they love it so. The thing is, brother and his family eat steak the way we did growing up- well done.
                                    Sooooo.... I bought reasonably priced choice strip steaks at Costco, and didn't mind (too much!) grilling their steaks well down.
                                    Even served A-1 with it!
                                    They loved it, and that made me happy.

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      I used to cringe at well done steaks, but hey, diferent strokes, right?

                                      I had a line cook show me a little something about "well done";
                                      There was one customer who came in and insisted that nobody *ever* served her a well done steak. So my line cook (we called him Rock 'cause he once passed a huge kidney stone) takes the 3/4" inch thick strip and puts it on the low flame of the grill, 4 flips it, about 4 minutes per side. Then he slides it over to the high flame, covers it with an aluminium pie plate and hits it with water, steaming it. 'Bout 4 minutes later, flips and repeats.
                                      Just when I thought the poor meat had the life completely sucked out of it, Rock puts it on a plate and microwaves it on high for FIVE MINUTES.
                                      It looked completely un-servable, kinda like a 20 year old, black wingtip shoe found at the dump with no sole or laces. It was stiff as a frozen cod, even curled up a bit.
                                      He winked at me, served it up with vegetables and a baked potato (flat rate, sides included...).

                                      I was sure the woman was going to complain, but it was just the opposite, she gushed with compliments. She returned many many times and always ordered the steak, "You're the only ones who know how to cook a steak!" she always said....

                            2. Can you do a prime rib and give her the end cut? I agree about a creamy side that goes w/ drier meat, maybe creamed spinach. My MIL does onions and mushrooms and they're a great side w/ steak, too.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chowser

                                Prime rib would be nice, but there's no time for that at this point. Maybe next year!

                              2. Make the always awesome ever popular stupid easy hot crash potatoes:

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                  Those look fantastic! Of course, I've never met a potato I didn't like :)

                                2. Update: I've committed to ribeye. Just bought them. Got some potatoes and broccoli at the store also. Might try the Pommes Anna; that's a good idea.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: pdub314

                                    Good luck! Please report back on the lovely event!

                                    1. re: pdub314

                                      You don't have to worry about hers as long as you cook it enough she will like it. And bernaise is good on anything.

                                      1. re: pdub314

                                        Hasselback potatoes are also neat- easy to do but look really cool.

                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                          +1! I've been loving these-and gorgeous presentation

                                      2. One problem with filet mignon is if it too thick it might be difficult to cook it to the well point.(speaking from my own experience) I would fry until medium and then put in the oven until the desired temperature is reached. It will be tender. You could have some roasted potatoes and honey glazed carrots as sides.

                                        1. You've already bought the meat so my suggestion will be redundant, however...

                                          Many years ago, I went to a Nicaraguan or Salvadorean restaurant on the advice of a friend, and they had a plate that was rice, beans, some kind of veg and steak. I ordered that.

                                          I remember what I got was an un-sliced slicing steak (skirt, flank, flat iron, something) that was cut very thin (maybe a half-inch) and, as it turned out, very marinated in some kind of... marinade. I cut into it and it was well done, didn't have much hope. It turned out to be super-flavourful and surprisingly tender. In the future, you might want to look into that kind of prep.

                                          While we're on the subject, any of you other steak-heads know what I ate?

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                                            Could have been Carne Asada, a citrus marinated thinly cut piece of beef that is often grilled.

                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                              Yep, carne asada. It's a pretty standard Latin dish and my favorite. I use skirt steak when I make it.

                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                Tremendous! Even cooked to a deep brown!

                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                  With the greatest respect IMO any one wants to eat beef "well done" isn't actually going to ever get the best out of the meat.
                                                  Go for FM and cook it till it's gray and then add something with a 'flavor' like a sauce. At that point the beef is only really a tasteless 'place-holder' for whatever flavor she enjoys.
                                                  This happens a lot with fish. Many people don't really enjoy the 'fishy' flavor of fish b/c they have never experienced how delicious really fresh fish is so a thousands recipes have been invented to camouflage the 'fishy' taste.
                                                  Sad really.

                                                  Happy VD to you both.

                                            2. Make it the way she likes it. My wife orders her fillet well done or no pink and is perfectly happy with the results. Cut individual steaks so you can enjoy yours to your liking

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                Surprised this wasn't suggest before.

                                              2. This what I do for those who like or have to have well done for health reasons. It is a quick sous vide. I fill a big pot and bring the temp to 135F. Put the steak in a zip lock and push the air out. Drop it in the pot for 45 minutes. I have done it in the oven at 140F and on the stove top on very low or just turn it off. It will very gradually bring the temp of the meat up to temperature without over shooting. You can then grill it or whatever you are doing to your steak. It will come up a little more when you cook it. I t does take a little experimentation to see what you need to bring it up to initially. I have done filets, prime sirloin and teres major that way. We are usually grilling outside that way.

                                                1. Thanks for all the tips! I ended up making the ribeye with bearnaise sauce. I alsom made the hot crash potatoes and some broccoli with lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and some nuts (similar to a recipe someone linked). The bearnaise sauce came out great I think. She was quite happy!
                                                  Thanks for the help everyone.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                    1. re: pdub314

                                                      I love all of your choices.
                                                      The crash hot potatoes are really neat in that they can be made ahead of time and just popped into a hot oven before serving.