If cooking isn’t your forte, planning a romantic Valentine’s evening at home can be a mighty daunting task. All that timing and planning can suck the romance right out of what is supposed to be a special evening between you and your honey, and as anyone in a relationship will tell you, you probably already have enough things to be stressed about as it is. Nevertheless, fancy dinners don’t run cheap (especially during quarantine), and anyway, nothing says “I love you” better than a home-cooked meal! If you’re nervous about taking the plunge, don’t be: Oliver’s is in your corner, and we’re going to give your Valentine’s Day the upgrade you and your sweetie have always deserved. We’ve put together a detailed, fool-proof plan for the ultimate in romantic dinners: seared prime filet mignon with broiled lobster tails, sautéed asparagus, and homemade mashed potatoes! Intimidated? Don’t be – we’ll break it down step-by-step so there are no surprises and no obstacles on your way to V-day perfection. From start to finish, Oliver’s will take you gently by the hand and lead you into the garden of love.
To make this meal, you will need 2 Oliver’s USDA Prime filet mignon steaks ($16.99/lb), 2 thawed Wild Caught Lobster Tails ($8.99/ea), 1 bunch Organic Asparagus ($3.99/lb), 1 pound of Yukon Gold potatoes, 7 cloves of garlic, 1 large shallot, 1 large lemon, sharp white cheddar cheese, 1 cup of heavy cream, 2 sticks of butter (about 1 cup), olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Let’s get groovy, baby!
5pm – Prep Ingredients & Tidy Space
Prepping ingredients ahead of time will make everything much faster when you go to cook, and since we’ll be knocking down dishes like dominoes, having everything prepped before you start will make the process as smooth as possible. You may want to clear some room in your fridge before starting this particular step, as everything you prep will need to be kept cold until you’re ready to use it. For this particular meal, you will need to prep the following:
- Asparagus – trim the woody ends and clean the stalks
- Garlic – grate 4 cloves, then smash 3 additional cloves
- Shallots – slice 1 large shallot
- Lemon – slice in half, then slice one half into thin rounds and the other into quarters
- Potatoes – peel and evenly cube, then place in a water bath to prevent discoloration
- Herbs – rinse & dry 3 sprigs each of fresh rosemary and thyme, finely chop about ¼ cup fresh parsley
- Cheese – grate about ½ c. Sharp White Cheddar
You will want to store everything you prep in tightly sealed containers, and make sure to keep everything cold until you need it to prevent spoilage. This is also a good time to tidy up your space, set the mood with candles or decorations, clear and clean the table, or wash any dishes remaining in your kitchen. Remember, no matter what anyone says, nothing is sexier than a delicious meal in clean house.
5:30pm – Chill Wine & Set Table
If you’re the sort who likes to imbibe with their meal, now is a good time to pop a bottle of wine into the fridge to chill – we recommend Cave de Ribeauvillé Crémant d’ Alsace Pinot Noir Rosé ($15.99/Alsace, France), it’s the perfect thing to set the mood for a fantastic evening and the notes of red currant and citrus make a spectacular compliment for such a luxurious spread. If still wines are more your thing, consider the equally delicious Clay Shannon Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.99/2017, Napa and Lake Counties)! With a dark, fruity character and old-world appeal, this rich red is the color of romance and the perfect accompaniment to an equally romantic meal.
Since this is a fancy meal, it deserves a fancy table setting! If you normally use paper napkins, consider investing in a set of cloth napkins and maybe even matching napkin rings; they’ll be great for future entertaining, and they’re an eco-friendly alternative to paper. Also, unless your table is truly battered to Hell, there’s really no need to invest in a tablecloth. Instead, coordinated cloth placemats can add a touch of elegance without adding too much to your cleanup. Try and coordinate the colors or patterns on your napkins, dishware, and placemats or tablecloth, that way your table looks cohesive and attractive. Make sure to include both a steak knife and a butter knife in your table setting, as well as wine glasses and water glasses. To up the romance, float a freshly cut rose or other kind of flower and some tea lights in a flat bowl of water in the center of the table for an easy, pretty centerpiece, or go for the classic flower arrangement in a low vase and a couple of tapers, just make sure you can still see your sweetie over it! Thrift stores are great places to hunt for unique and interesting table-setting pieces, or check out Oliver’s own Cards and Gifts Department.
You can also leave the plates off your table, since you’ll need them to dish up your mouthwatering meal later! Keep them in the kitchen for now.
6pm – Start Water Boiling for Potatoes & Preheat Broiler
Now is where we start getting into the business of cooking, so strap on an apron and get ready because here is where the real work begins!
Drain the potatoes you prepped earlier and transfer them to a large pot, then fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by about 2 inches. Cover the potatoes, and set the pot on a burner, preferably the highest powered one on the stove, and turn on high. This is also the perfect time to start the broiler – we’ll be broiling our lobster tails, so getting that sucker nice and hot is a must. You can also prepare a sheet pan by lining it with aluminum foil.
6:10 – Begin Cooking
Heat a large saute pan on medium high with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and add shallots and asparagus. Season with lightly garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then toss so that everything in the pan is evenly seasoned. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan and cover tightly, reducing heat to medium-low.
After covering asparagus, arrange thawed lobster tails on prepared baking sheet, separating the meat just slightly from the shell and tucking lemon slices into the space. Remember the garlic we grated earlier? Split it in half, reserving the rest for later; season each lobster tail lightly with paprika, salt, and pepper, then spread half of the remaining garlic paste on the meat of eat tail. Top each tail with 2 tablespoons of butter, one on either end of the tail, and stick in the broiler. By this time, the potatoes should also have come to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and uncover, then set a timer for 10 minutes. The lobster tails should only take 10 minutes.
Now is the time to pull out the steaks. Prep each filet mignon by patting them with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, then liberally season both steaks all sides with plenty of salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron skillet until hot, then melt 2 tablespoons of butter. When pan is very hot but not yet smoking, lay seasoned steaks into pan; allow the steaks to sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without moving them. Doing this will help your steaks get that signature crusty sear and keep them tender and moist. After four minutes, flip the steaks. Continue to sear the steaks without touching them for about 2 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons of butter, rosemary and thyme sprigs, and smashed garlic cloves to the pan. Tilt the pan towards you slightly so the butter pools around the herbs and garlic, then spoon the infused butter continuously over the steaks as they finish cooking, about 2 to 3 minutes more. To test for doneness, press gently in the middle of the steaks. If they are very soft and do not bounce back at all, your steaks are very rare; on the opposite end, if the steak is very firm and has no give, it is well-done. Ideally, a steak should have some give but still be reasonably firm – this is how you know you have a perfect, medium-rare filet mignon.
6:25pm – Finishing Touches
By this time, your potatoes should be fork tender, your steaks should be a perfect medium-rare, and your lobster tails should be opaque and cooked through. Pull the lobster tails from the broiler first to keep them from overcooking. If the asparagus spears are not yet cooked all the way, let them keep going while you finish your other dishes, otherwise remove them from the heat but keep them in the pan.
Remove your finished steaks from their pan, and transfer them to a plate where they will rest untouched for another 5 minutes, at LEAST. Doing this allows the juices to reabsorb and circulate back through the meat, keeping it juicy; cut into a steak before resting it, and you let out all the flavor and moisture you worked so hard to keep during cooking! While your steaks rest, drain potatoes completely, then roughly mash with a potato masher. Mix in ½ cup butter (cut into chunks) and cheese, then add about half of heavy cream. Continue mashing until smooth, then stir in remaining cream until desired thickness is reached. Stir in reserved garlic paste, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
If you plan on serving any bread, now is a good time to warm and slice it, or simply give yourself a moment to breath and refresh yourself before you tuck in.
6:30pm – Bon Appetit!
Dim the lights and spark up the candles because it’s dinnertime! For an elegant plating presentation that’ll really up the ante, mound a serving of mashed potatoes in the center of each plate and top with 5 or 6 spears of asparagus, then gently lean a steak on one side and plate the lobster tail on the other. Pull out your chilled wine and pop it in a bucket of ice to keep it cold, and fill up a small jug with water so you don’t have to get up until you’re full. Turn up some sultry tunes and turn down the lights for a romantic atmosphere, and try to leave room for dessert! We love our classic, house-made chocolate-dipped strawberries ($12.99/lb) as a light way to end an evening of luxury. With the sweet and acidic strawberries and the dark, rich chocolate, they’re truly the taste of romance!
No matter what route you decide to take this Valentine’s Day, let Oliver’s help you show the special person in your life how much they matter to you. With produce that’s always the freshest and the highest quality meats and seafood, anyone can create a meal worthy of a five-star restaurant in their own kitchen. Whether it’s a new relationship or one that’s tried and true, there’s truly no better way to say “I love you”!
For more great Valentine’s Day recipes and ideas, click HERE!