If you’re looking for an impressive main course that’s sure to impress, cooking filet mignon is a great option. This tender cut of beef is known for its buttery texture and delicate flavor, making it a favorite among steak enthusiasts. However, many home cooks are intimidated by the idea of preparing filet mignon, fearing that it will be dry, tough or overcooked. Fortunately, with a few simple tips and techniques, cooking filet mignon is easy, and the results are sure to please.
What is Filet Mignon?
If you’re a steak lover, chances are you’ve heard of filet mignon. It’s a popular steak cut that’s known for its tenderness and mild, buttery flavor. But what exactly is filet mignon and where does it come from?
The Cut and Location of Filet Mignon
Filet mignon is a premium cut of beef that comes from the tenderloin area of the cow. It’s a long, cylindrical muscle that runs along the spine, extending from the ribs to the sirloin. This part of the cow doesn’t do a lot of work, which is why the meat is so tender.
To get filet mignon, the tenderloin is first trimmed of its silver skin and excess fat. The meat is then sliced into rounds, each one measuring about 2 inches in diameter and 2-3 inches tall. Filet mignon is typically sold in steaks that are 1-2 inches thick.
How to Select Quality Filet Mignon
Cooking filet mignon to perfection begins with selecting the right cut of meat. You want to choose a cut that is tender, juicy, and full of flavor. When selecting filet mignon at your local market, always consider the following:
Look for Marbling
Marbling refers to the white fat that runs through the meat. It’s often said that the more marbling a piece of meat has, the better it will taste. When shopping for filet mignon, look for cuts with visible marbling throughout the meat. However, if there is too much fat running through the meat, it can make it tough to chew.
Choose a Bright Red Color
Filet mignon should have a bright red color. Avoid any meat that appears to be brown or grey. This could be a sign that the meat has been sitting around for too long or is past its prime, compromising its flavor and texture.
Check for a Firm Texture
The texture of the meat is also important when selecting filet mignon. It should feel firm to the touch, indicating that it is fresh and of good quality. Avoid meat that is mushy or has a slimy texture.
Opt for USDA Prime or Choice Grades
The USDA grades beef on a scale from Select, Choice, and Prime. Prime is the highest grade and indicates the most marbling, which usually means the best flavor and tenderness. Choice is a safe bet since it’s a good quality cut of meat that is readily available in most markets. Select is the least expensive, but it may not be as tender or flavorful as the higher grades.
Should Filet Mignon be Grilled or Pan-Seared
Filet mignon, or “dainty fillet,” is known as the king of steaks. If cooked properly, it boasts a buttery texture that melts in your mouth, making it a favorite among steak enthusiasts. It can be grilled or pan-seared, but when it comes to creating a crust on the outside while keeping the inside juicy, pan-searing is the better method.
The Advantages of Pan-Seared Filet Mignon
Pan-searing essentially means that you’re cooking your steak in a pan on the stovetop. It is ideal for thicker cuts of meat like filet mignon, as it allows you to achieve the combination of a caramelized crust with a perfect medium-rare interior. Here are a few advantages of pan-searing:
- Less Time-Consuming: Pan-searing allows you to prepare your filet mignon in less time than grilling.
- More Control: You have more control over the temperature of the pan and the timing of cooking, which means that you can get the perfect filet mignon each time.
- Easy to Accomplish: You don’t need any special equipment such as a grill or thermometer; all you need is a pan and some oil.
How to Cook Filet Mignon
Filet mignon is one of the most tender and flavorful cuts of meat, but it can also be one of the most challenging to cook to perfection. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to cook filet mignon that is juicy, tender, and delicious every time.
Step 1: Prep the Meat
Before cooking, bring the filet mignon to room temperature by leaving it out of the refrigerator for about an hour. This will help it cook more evenly. Once it is at room temperature, season it liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
Step 2: Sear in a Skillet
Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it is smoking hot. Add a tablespoon of butter and a clove of minced garlic to the pan and swirl to coat. Place the filet mignon in the pan and let it sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, until it is browned and crusty on the outside.
Step 3: Finish in the Oven
Transfer the skillet to a preheated 400-degree oven and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes, depending on how you like your steak cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – 120 degrees for rare, 130 degrees for medium-rare, 140 degrees for medium, and 155 degrees for well-done.
Step 4: Let Rest and Serve
Remove the filet mignon from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Slice the steak against the grain and serve with your favorite side dishes.
Remember, the key to cooking filet mignon perfectly is to let it come to room temperature before cooking, sear it in a hot skillet, finish it in the oven, and let it rest before slicing and serving. With these tips, your filet mignon will be the star of your next dinner party.
How to Tell When Filet Mignon is Cooked Perfectly
Filet mignon is a cut of beef that is loved by many people because it is tender and packed with flavour. However, because of its thickness and the importance of cooking it to the right temperature for it to taste its best, it can be a little tricky to cook to perfection. Here are some tips to ensure that your filet mignon is cooked just the way you like it:
Use an Instant-read Thermometer
The easiest way to tell when filet mignon is cooked to perfection is by using an instant-read thermometer. This will ensure that you cook your steak to the desired temperature without having to cut into it to check. For rare, cook to 120Â°F, medium rare 125Â°F, medium 130Â°F, and medium well 135Â°F.
Let the Steak Rest
Once your steak is cooked to the desired temperature, remove it from the heat source and let it rest for a few minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and juicy steak.
Season Your Steak Properly
Seasoning your steak correctly is crucial in bringing out its flavour. Before cooking, sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper evenly over both sides of the steak, or use your favourite steak seasoning. Be sure not to use too much salt as it can overpower the natural flavour of the steak.
Use a Cast-Iron Skillet or Grill
A cast-iron skillet or grill is the best tool for cooking filet mignon. The heavy-duty construction of a cast-iron skillet or grill allows for even heating, resulting in a beautifully seared exterior and juicy interior. Be sure to preheat your skillet or grill to ensure that it sears the steak perfectly.
Add Butter and Garlic to Your Steak
For an added burst of flavour, consider adding butter and garlic to your steak. Once your steak is nearly done, add a pat of unsalted butter and a crushed garlic clove to the skillet. Baste your steak with the melted butter and garlic until it reaches your desired temperature.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to cook a delicious and perfectly cooked filet mignon.
What to Serve with Filet Mignon
Filet mignon is a delicious, tender cut of beef that pairs perfectly with a variety of sides. Whether you’re looking for something simple or a little more elaborate, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some ideas:
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness and flavor. Some good options to serve with filet mignon include:
- Brussels sprouts
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish that pairs well with almost any type of meat. But if you want to take things up a notch, try adding some garlic to your mashed potatoes for extra flavor.
A simple salad is a great way to balance out the richness of the filet mignon. Start with a bed of lettuce and add some vegetables like cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. You can also sprinkle on some crumbled cheese or nuts for added texture.
No meal featuring filet mignon is complete without a good red wine. Some good options include:
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Remember, the key to a good pairing is to find a wine that complements the flavor of the meat without overpowering it.
Enjoy Your Delicious Filet Mignon!
Thank you for taking the time to learn how to cook filet mignon like a pro. We hope that these tips have made the process simple and enjoyable for you. Remember to keep an eye on the temperature, let the meat rest, and use the best ingredients available. With these tricks, you can have a perfectly cooked, juicy, and tasty filet mignon on your plate in no time.
Cooking Filet Mignon Made Easy
- 2 filet mignon steaks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup red wine
- Remove the steaks from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub olive oil on both sides of the steaks and season them generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the steaks in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes per side. Add a tablespoon of butter, garlic, and rosemary to the pan, and baste the steaks with the melted butter for 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the skillet with the steaks to the oven and roast for 6-8 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 135°F for medium-rare, or 145°F for medium. Remove the skillet from the oven and tent the steaks with foil. Let the steaks rest for 5-10 minutes.
- While the steaks rest, put the skillet back on medium heat. Add red wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice the steaks and serve them on a plate. Drizzle the sauce on top and garnish with fresh rosemary. Enjoy!