Alton’s aboard a private plane discussing caviar, chocolates and lobster as he sips from a champagne flute. Delicious as they are, none of these are filet, as in filet mignon. Filet mignon comes from the very best part of the cow, the tenderloin. Ounce for ounce this... someone knocks on the door and a voice calls out, asking who’s in the plane. It seems Alton isn’t flying at all. And the plane’s pilot wants to know what’s going on. Alton quickens his explanation: tenderloin cuts are as good and as expensive as food gets. The good news is that tenderloin can be an affordable luxury. ..Read the full recap
(Alton speaks from a private plane.)
Alton: Filet mignon. Cut from the rarest, tenderest bit of Bos taurgus. This is the tenderloin, kids, every gram a feast for the senses, and utterly unique in flavor and in texture. Ask anyone who has dined in a top drawer steakhouse and they will tell you the truth: ounce for ounce, this (someone knocks) is about...
Pilot: Hey! Who’s in there?!?
Alton: (hurrying) ... as good and as expensive as food gets. Ha ha. Of course, the good news is that the filet, or tenderloin can be that rare thing – an affordable luxury.
(The pilot opens the door and enters.)
Pilot: What are you doing in my airplane?
Alton: Your airplane! Why... oh, you’re right. Mine’s got leather, not pleather. Oh, well, honest mistake!
Pilot: Whatever. I’m calling security.
Alton: Ahhh, looks like we won’t be eating out in Paris or Tangiers. But that’s okay! We don’t need ‘em. We’ve got... (Good Eats theme plays)
Alton: The tenderloin is about as far from hoof and horn as you can get while still being on the animal.
Alton: Here, you may often find whole vacuum-packed tenderloins, known in the trade as PSMOs. That stands for peeled, as in “of extra fat” and “side meat on.” That refers to a small yet delicious piece of meat called the chain.
Alton: Once the outer fat and chain are removed we must face our first obstacle. It is the insidious barrier known as... silverskin.
Alton: Although the contributions of the French to cuisine are many, in my opinion nothing rivals the sauté dish known far and wide as Steak au Poivre. Not only does this dish taste great, it is a fine example of two basic skills: sautéing meat and assembling a pan sauce.
Alton: These steaks are at room temperature – very, very important if you’re going to have even cooking. If you refrigerate them before hand – before cooking – then you want to get them out on the counter a half hour or so before they are supposed to go into the pan.
Alton: To get all those solids off the bottom of the pan, we will need a deglazing liquid.
The episode title comes from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel titled Tender is the Night. Scott wrote the novel in 1934 while his wife was hospitalized with a psychiatric disorder. The novel tells the story of a wealthy couple loosely based on the Murphys, Americans living on the French Riviera during the 1920's.
During deglazing, Alton lights the alcohol fumes emitted by the hot Cognac, producing a reddish fireball for a few moments. He compares this to a KISS concert. KISS, a rock band whose popularity peaked in the seventies and resurged again in the nineties, is famous for the use of various bits of showmanship, among them elaborate pyrotechnic effects such as fire breathing and on stage explosions.