The recipe is actually chicken breasts diable. But, way back when we first moved into this house, we bought a bulk selection of seafood and various grill-able beef parts – including hamburgers and tenderloins. We’ve been working steadily through the meat (none of which we’ve grilled), and the seafood is, for the most part, gone, but we still have enough tenderloin (or, rather, for this meal, filet mignon) left for three more meals. Time to start indulging more!

When I first read this recipe, I wasn’t impressed. Chicken breasts and Dijon mustard – not my idea of über-delicious food. Also, I would have to buy chicken breasts, although I did consider just using chicken thighs, which were on sale this week and I planned to buy anyway. But then I saw the bonne idée substituting filet mignon, and I was sold.

Mustard is not my favorite condiment. I don’t touch the yellow stuff as a rule. I prefer whole-grain Dijon with a touch of honey – just a tad, because I don’t want it too sweet. I like it mixed into egg salads and the filling for deviled eggs, and it’s okay on the odd sandwich. But it wouldn’t be my first choice.

The devil in this diable is Dijon mustard. Three tablespoons of it, which to me seems excessive. Granted, I made the full amount of sauce, because I’ve found that halving the sauce and keeping it from reducing away and scorching the skillet is beyond my abilities at this point. I tried it for the filet mignon au poivre not too long ago, and the results weren’t pretty.

This is not a traditional diable, in which the chicken is brushed with mustard then coated with bread crumbs and bake in an oven. No, no. Dorie made this much simpler and, I think, much better.

The ingredients are easy to assemble, and we start simply by cooking the beef in a skillet.

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Dijon mustard & Worcestershire sauce (one of my favorite under-used ingredients), heavy cream, a mixture of white wine & brandy, and garlic. All you need to make a lovely mustard-cream sauce.

Filet mignon searing in the skillet. Good (but blurry) stuff.

Filet mignon searing in the skillet. Good (but blurry) stuff.

Once the meat is done cooking, its moved to a plate, tented with foil, and stuck in a warm oven to rest about five minutes. The filets had a companion in the oven – the side dish of roasted asparagus that was also hanging out in there to stay warm.

And then the sauce is made. Garlic first, just long enough to become aromatic. Then the alcohol, to deglaze the skillet. This is usually where trouble occurs for me, but I’ve finally figured out how to add alcohol to a cast-iron skillet without it all immediately burning away, which is what happened to my filet mignon au poivre. Thank goodness for lessons learned! No such problems here. The cream is then added, followed by the mustard and the Worcestershire sauce. I let that reduce just a little, then pulled out the beef and added the accumulated juices. The filets were plated, the asparagus went to the table, and the sauce was spooned generously over the meat.

Voilá.

Filet Mignon Diable with roasted asparagus.

Filet Mignon Diable with roasted asparagus.

I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. The mustard did add the slightest “devilish” quality to the meat, in a way that wasn’t too overpowering. I found that the steak and mustard sauce went very well together, and the plainly dressed asparagus got a nice flavor boost from the sauce too. It had a decadent feel to it, always nice when everything actually came together so quickly and easily. Spicy from the mustard, but with a lovely creaminess that kept the heat from getting out of control. Everything just felt so rich, but not overly so.

Geordie felt that the filet would have been good enough on its own – and he’s right about that. The meat was certainly flavorful and tender enough to stand alone. But I liked the addition of the sauce. It gave this lovely cut of meat an added dimension. Honestly, making this meal made me feel a bit more accomplished. I felt like I’d done something really divine!

I would like to try this again with the chicken. I imagine this sauce would bring a whole lot more to a milder piece of meat, and a nice, tender chicken breast would be a great vehicle for it. This is definitely a sauce I would make again, even though we ended up with quite a bit of it leftover. No problem, though! I used it in my breakfast the next morning, on half an English muffin and topped with a poached egg.

Poached egg with mustard-cream sauce on an English muffin.

Poached egg with mustard-cream sauce on an English muffin.

I had maybe a little too much mustard sauce on the muffin, but oh, this was tasty! The yolk and the sauce went perfectly together. It made me wish I hadn’t sent all the leftover asparagus to work with Geordie. Spinach would probably go nicely with this too. Instead, I just ate an apple afterwards. Oh, well.

Diable is definitely a dish worth trying! I was a little nervous about it, but it was certainly a winner with us. Check out the French Friday links to see how the other Doristas liked it. Happy cooking!