A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Fileno Al Mirtilio [Steak with Blueberry Sauce]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Fileno Al Mirtilio [Steak with Blueberry Sauce]

It's always amazing to me how some foods have the power to conjure up a happy memory.  I've already posted a few recipes here that hold a special place in my heart or that bring back fond memories of the holidays, family, and friends.  One of the things that I love most about tonight's dinner-- besides the fact that it's delicious-- is that it does just that.

In college I was lucky enough to spend a semester studying abroad in Florence.  It was a great time in my life and it already feels like such a long time ago.  I was studying architecture and we often took weekend-long field trips to other cities in Italy where we would spend all day touring with our professors and then they turned us loose around dinnertime to fend for ourselves.  A lot of our friends would head to McDonald's for some cheap food and then to a bar, but I had a great little group of friends that would get together to find a nice restaurant where we'd have a "family" dinner of fantastic Italian food and lots of wine.  When I think back to my time there these dinners are still my favorite memories.

The whole gang at Acqua al 2 in Florence, Italy circa 2006

Last weekend my friend Rachel (another member of our Italian supper club) was in town from Boston and we joined her and our friend Mike for cocktails.  It was great to catch up and reminisce about the hysterical/awkward moments of our college days-- and a lot of the conversation went back to our time in Florence (Mike was there with us too).

A mini-reunion in Chicago

The next day when I was coming up with what to make for Sunday dinner I was still thinking about Italy and one meal in particular.  Our group had a special dinner at Acqua al 2 to celebrate our last weekend in Florence and the dish that everyone had told us to order was the Fileno Al Mirtilio-- a steak with a savory blueberry sauce.  It sounds bizarre, but it is really delicious.  I scoured the internet for a recipe that sounded like what I remembered, made a few tweaks and edits, and had a wonderful dinner that really took me back.  I'm not sure it took Alex anywhere (since he's never been to Italy), but he gave it excellent reviews!

Which meals bring back favorite memories for you?

Fileno Al Mirtilio [Steak with Blueberry Sauce]

  • 4 Filet Mignon steaks, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to desired level of doneness
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 4-5 springs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic to hot oil and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly soft.  Add the brown sugar and turn heat to low.  Cook for about10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine, water, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and blueberries to the pan.  Be sure to reserve about 1/3 cup blueberries. Turn up the heat and cook until the sauce is reduced. Keep stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Once the sauce has reduced by about half, blend with an immersion blender (or once slightly cooled, in a blender) until smooth.  If you used a blender, return the blueberry mixture to the pot (if you used the immersion blender, it's still in the pot) and heat over medium heat.  Add the reserved 1/3 cup of blueberries and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until blueberries just begin to burst.

Spoon over grilled steaks.  Buon appetito!

Inspired by dish at Acqua al 2 and derived from recipe courtesy of Funny Bunny Cooks.


  1. Hmm... so does the blueberry sauce add a sweetness to the steak?

    1. It adds a subtle sweetness to the steak, but it's more tangy because of the vinegar and the onions. I'd say it tastes most like a fancy barbecue sauce!

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