Friday, March 15, 2013

The Aroma of Steak...

The power of smell is amazing.  We shoot a lot of food in our studio, but nothing has the ability to gravitate people to a set more than a fresh steak.  The smell fills the studio, and everyone wants to try it.

A savory mushroom crust surrounds tender beef filets in this recipe, aside from the red wine reduction.

This Shot is just one from a 2 week shoot with this client.  The shoot was for a cookbook for the client, and should be ready to purchase in the next few months.  I shot this with our Sinar Digital back mounted on a 4x5 view camera.  I wanted to get low and really close on the subject, to really show the   "meat" of the shot. (pun intended)  I used a 150mm lens, wide open. 

For lighting, the client and art director wanted to portray a more natural light.  In my mind, I envisioned the window coming from the right.  So to create that light source I used an 11'' Speedotron bare reflector and aimed it at a bank of white cards.  This gave me a very large soft light source, which gave me the beautiful highlight on the right portion of the filet.  I then brought a small white card close and on the left, to reflect that light and fill in the left side.  That card is giving a small highlight on the front left side of the filet.  The shot also needed some directional light, so I brought in a few point sources. 

One was from the back left, which gave some nice specular highlights, and really made crust separate.  Another was directly behind; this was a small point source with very low power, and it is providing the rim lights for the green beans.  At this point the overall contrast of the shot was too much, and the Red Wine Reduction on the plate wasn't getting any light, so I put a softbox on a boom overhead.  This filled in some of the shadows and reduced the overall contrast.

We have had a lot of people ask us for the recipe for this, so here is one that is very similar:

Original recipe makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon butter     1/2 cup minced white onion     3 cloves garlic, minced     1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth     1/2 cup port wine     1 tablespoon vegetable oil     4 filet mignon steaks (1 1/2 inch cut)
3/4 cup porcini mushrooms (cut anyway you like)     

     1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and thyme.  Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender.  Stir in the beef broth, scraping any onion bits from the bottom of the pan, then sir in the port wine.  Bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Set aside.  

     2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat oil in a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet over high heat.  Seer steaks quickly on both sides until brown, then place the whole pan into the oven.
  3. Roast steaks in the oven for about 15 minutes for medium rare - with an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.   Remove from the oven, and place on a baking sheet.  Top each steak with a layer of porcini mushrooms.
  4.  Preheat the oven's broiler.  Place steaks under the preheated broiler until the mushrooms have cooked, usually 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with warm port wine sauce.

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