Filet Mignon: The King of Steak

A melt-in-your-mouth cut of steak, filet mignon is the all-star of the steak and chop house. It’s cut from the small end of the beef tenderloin and is known for being exceptionally tender — and also the most expensive and sought after. Many chefs specialize in working with filet mignon because it isn’t necessarily regarded as the most flavorful cut of beef — which opens the door for the chef to enhance it with a wide array of flavors and preparations. Learn how to prepare filet mignon with the following tips.

What Is Filet Mignon?

Filet mignon is typically a small but scrumptious steak. It comes from the small part of the tenderloin, so it’s nowhere near as large as a porterhouse or T-bone steak. The reason why filet mignon is so tender is because the tenderloin is a non-weight-bearing muscle. That means that exercise doesn’t cause it to toughen like other cuts of beef. If you prefer a tender cut, nothing beats filet mignon.

History of Filet Mignon

The term filet mignon is French, but this cut of beef is enjoyed the world over. In Italy, it’s known as the filetto; in Norway, it’s called the indrefilet. The term was made popular during the early 1900s in the stories of O. Henry, who equated the cut with romantic meals. Indeed, it’s still a popular meal option for Valentine’s Day or other special occasions.

Unique Features of Filet Mignon

Filet mignon does not contain a lot of fat — or much flavor. Many chefs and home cooks opt to cook the filet wrapped in bacon so it can absorb some of the bacon’s flavor. Marinades and rubs can also be used to infuse flavor into this cut of beef. It’s often served topped with a dollop of herbed butter, sauted mushrooms or some gorgonzola or bleu cheese to add a jolt of flavor.

Recipe: Grilled Filet Mignon

To prepare this delectable cut of beef, opt for a simple preparation like this that you might find at a classic steakhouse:

Ingredients

4 tenderloin filets

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

Cooking spray

To prepare this delicious version of filet mignon, start by preheating your grill. Then, you’ll need to grind the peppercorns and rosemary to create a coarse powder. Add in the dry mustard, garlic powder and salt, and rub it across both sides of each filet. Next, spray your grill grates with some cooking spray to ensure the steaks don’t stick. Grill using direct heat for about 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare or 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium when cooking a 1-inch cut.

You can also cook the steaks under the broiler or by searing in a cast iron pan before finishing in the oven. Whatever you do, only use dry-heat methods to cook filet mignon, or you’ll be disappointed in the results.

For a fancy presentation, serve atop a mound of mashed potatoes with a side of roasted asparagus and a classic wedge salad.

Variations

Filet mignon can be a thick cut of meat. Often, it’s left quite rare inside. If you prefer your steak more done throughout, request that your steak be butterflied so that more of the beef is exposed to the grill’s heat.

Other ingredients that are often used to flavor or enhance filet mignon are mushrooms, butter, olive oil, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, fresh thyme, balsamic vinegar, red wine and other kinds of fresh herbs. Try your own favorite ingredients to create your signature filet mignon dish to serve with your favorite side dishes.

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