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Despite the fancy French name and price tag to match, Filet mignon is a tasty dish that’s actually one of the easiest steaks to cook. Because it comes from the most tender cut of the cow, the less you do to it, the better.
Filet mignon can be a savory treat for yourself after a hectic week, a delicious dish to enjoy during date nights, or a flavorful supper to eat with the family if you’re feeling fancy.
Difference Between Filet Mignon and Beef Tenderloin
Filet mignon comes from the narrow front end of a cow’s tenderloin muscle. It’s a lean and tender cut meat with hardly any marbling or connective tissue. Marbling is what adds flavor to the meat as the fat melts when you cook it. And since it doesn’t have a lot of fat it is not as flavorful as other meat cuts. But what it lacks in flavor it makes up with its tenderness, in which a properly cooked filet mignon almost melts in your mouth in every bite.
Filet mignon is a small cut (hence, it’s called as mignon in French). It comes from the very tip of the tenderloin, often just 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches in diameter. It might be small, but it’s usually the most expensive cut from the carcass.
Beef tenderloin, on the other hand, is a muscle near the backbone of the cow that hardly gets any exercise, so the muscle fibers are small and extremely tender. It stretches from the loin primal to the sirloin primal with 18 in. to 24 in. length. The whole tenderloin can be sold as beef tenderloin steaks or broken into smaller steaks, which includes filet mignon that comes from the very front (loin end) of the tenderloin.
Quick and Easy Filet Mignon Recipe
Filet mignon is one of the easiest steaks to cook. You can enjoy this delightful dish at the comfort of your own home with this filet mignon recipe.
How to Cook Perfect Filet Mignon
Since filet mignon doesn’t have the connective tissue (marble) that needs to be melted, you don’t have a reason to cook the meat beyond medium-rare, unless that is your preference. Fat and bones are insulators which slows the cooking process, since filet mignon has neither fat or bones, you can cook it quickly.
There are two ways to cook filet mignon:
- Pan frying – You can simply pan-fry the filet mignon in a skillet on the stovetop about 3-8 minutes each side, incorporating your herbs and spices as you sear it.
- Skillet-to-oven technique – You briefly sear the filet mignon in a hot oven-safe skillet (you may use a cast-iron pan as well) about 2 minutes per side, until a brown crust forms. Then, transfer it to the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking.
To get the best doneness of the meat according to your preference, you need to use a reliable meat thermometer (digital, instant-read ones are ideal). Having a food thermometer in handy will help you monitor how the filet mignon is cooking and will help you achieve the doneness that suits your taste.
For a rare filet mignon, try to aim for an internal temperature of 120°-130°F which is the juiciest stage of cooking.
For a medium-rare filet mignon, you would need to strive for an internal temperature of 130°-135°F. It should have a little bit of resistance when poked with your meat thermometer.
Don’t forget that carryover cooking from resting the meat can increase the internal temperature by 5°F, so you need to know when is the right timing to let the meat rest without cooking it all the way.
- Filet mignon steak (1-2 in. thick) (amount depends on the number of people you will serve)
- 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil (but if unavailable, any neutral oil)
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Kosher salt
- Flaky salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cooking Filet Mignon to Perfection
- Let your steak come up to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 415°F.
- Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season it with kosher salt.
- Melt your unsalted butter with the oil in a cast-iron skillet on your stove over medium-high heat.
- When the foam from the butter subsides, sear your steak to the hot pan for about 2 minutes per side until each side is nicely browned. Add your fresh rosemary sprigs as you sear the meat to integrate its fragrance and taste to the filet mignon.
- Carefully transfer the hot skillet to the oven and continue cooking until the steak reaches your desired internal temperature. Use your meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperatures. Remember: Rare (115° to 125°F) and Medium-Rare (125° to 135°F) with an added 5°F allowance when the meat rests.
- Cook the meat in the oven for about 4-6 minutes then remove it from heat. Season it with salt and pepper and let it rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.
While this French dish may sound fancy, it is indeed one of the easiest steaks to cook and it doesn’t take too long to create this delightful dish. Filet mignon might not be the most flavorful meat cut, but the meat’s tenderness compensates for it. It’s quick and easy to cook too! You don’t have to be a chef just to cook this meat to perfection.
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