The filet mignon has long been considered the crème de la crème of luxury beef. With its fork-tender iconic appeal, it’s easy to see why this cut can top the lists for both price and popularity. But what makes this cut of steak so special and how can you cook a filet mignon at home to impress your family and friends? Never fear, our friends at Chicago Steak provide these great tips.
What is Filet Mignon
Before we delve into the why’s and how’s, let’s talk about what. In the U.S., Filet Mignon refers to a cut of beef taken from the tenderloin of the cow. To understand why this type of steak is so tender and juicy, we need a quick anatomy lesson.
The tenderloin runs along either side of the mid-upper back portion of the cow. This isn’t exactly a high impact exercise area for the animal, which means the tenderloin muscles don’t see a lot of exertion, which can strengthen or toughen the tissue. This lack of heavy muscle straining is what makes the filet a particularly tender steak.
While filet mignon is extremely tender, the lean nature of the tenderloin can remove some of the flavor that is usually derived from fat or marbling in other cuts. Consider a sauce or infused butter to increase your flavor impact.
How to Cook Filet Mignon
Now that you know what sets this steak apart, let’s get down to the preparation. While your options for cooking are like most other steak cuts, the lack of excess fat or connective tissue in a steak filet naturally lends itself to a few different methods. Read on for the various options for cooking a filet mignon.
Regardless of which cooking option you choose, don’t forget to “rest” your steak before serving. Placing your steak on a platter or plate, loosely covered with foil or a pan lid for at least 5 minutes before serving will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
Of course, you are also going to want some great side dishes to go along with your steak.
1. Grilling Filet Mignon
There is something innately appealing about firing up the grill and gathering with friends and family to cook a great meal and enjoy some good conversation. As it turns out, filet mignon on the grill is an excellent preparation choice. Simply take your steak filets out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes in advance to allow to them to come to room temperature. Then just follow these simple steps for grilled filet mignon perfection.
How to cook filet mignon on the grill:
- Pre-heat grill to at least 450 degrees but not more than 500 degress
- Give the meat a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Cooking time should be about 6 minutes per side
- Flip after first 6 minutes
- Cook to an internal temperature of 125-135 degrees for a medium rare steak
Filet mignon grilling times will vary depending on thickness, grill temp and weather conditions. Using an instant read meat thermometer to measure internal temperature will always be your best option for consistent and even cooking.
2. Pan Searing Filet Mignon
While cooking filet mignon on the grill is certainly the classic outdoors preparation, pan searing or pan-frying filet mignon is a great opportunity to add seasoning to this tender, but lean, cut of steak. Since you don’t need to break down extensive amounts of connective tissue with a filet mignon steak, searing also is the perfect opportunity to get that warm, red center of a perfectly cooked medium rare piece of meat.
Cooking filet mignon in a pan:
- Preheat heavy duty pan, or cast iron skillet, in oven at 525 degrees
- Place heated pan on stovetop over high flame
- Season steaks with salt, pepper, and oil of choice
- Sear steaks in pan for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on thickness
- Remove pan from stovetop and allow steaks to cook in residual heat of pan for another 2-3 minutes per side until internal temperature of 125-135 degrees or desired doneness is reached.
3. Broiled Filet Mignon
If you can’t take the steak to the grill, bring the flame to your steak filet mignon. Your traditional stove broiler is one of the most under-utilized weapons in your cooking arsenal. While you may be able to achieve that traditional wood or charcoal flavor on the grill, broiling filet mignon will allow you to easily control cooking temperature which will result in a more even level of doneness.
How to broil filet mignon:
- Preheat oven broiler for at least 15 minutes
- Place oven safe pan or broiler pan in oven and allow it to heat with oven temperature
- Thoroughly season and oil your steaks
- Place steaks in oven under broiler for 4-7 minutes
- Flip steaks once and cook on other side for 4-7 minutes additional, depending on desired level of doneness
Broiling may be one of the best ways to cook a filet mignon. It combines all the aspects of open flame cooking in an all-weather friendly indoor kitchen oven. Your filet mignon steak will have an excellent sear from being kissed by the flame, without all the fuss and mess of a grill.
4. Filet Mignon in the Oven
If the idea of cooking on an open flame has you a bit nervous, never fear. Cooking in the oven may just be our favorite way to cook filet mignon yet. The key is to start with a very hot pan and plenty of oil to get that nice, crunchy crust on your steak filet mignon. Finishing in the oven after a quick sear will allow for even heating of the meat all the way through.
How to cook filet mignon in the oven:
- Preheat oven to 525 degrees
- Place well oiled, oven proof pan in oven (we like a nice heavy cast-iron option for this preparation)
- Once oven reaches temperature, remove the pan from the oven to the stovetop over high flame
- Sear beef filet mignon 1-2 minutes per side
- Then switch back to the oven for an additional 6-7 minutes depending on desired level of doneness
Whenever a pan is involved, it opens the opportunities for seasonings and specialty oils and butters. Try placing a dollop of seasoned butter onto the top after searing the filet mignon and before transferring the steak to the oven.
Seasoning Your Filet Mignon
On a typical, well marbled steak, simplicity tends to be key and a basic salt and pepper regimen reigns supreme. When seasoning a filet mignon for cooking, stick to the same principle, but don’t be afraid to up the flavor profile a notch given the more delicate flavor of the steak. Additional seasonings or marinades may be just the extra kick your grilled filet mignon needs to make a big impression at your next dinner party.
Some of our favorite seasonings include:
- Pink peppercorns, cracked or whole
- Garlic salt or granulated garlic
- Celery salt
- Traditional barbeque dry rubs including the addition of a touch of brown sugar
- Worcestershire sauce as a quick marinade 30 minutes or so prior to cooking
Now that we’ve given you these great options on how you can cook a filet mignon at home, invite your friends or family over for a steak house quality dinner prepared by you the house chef.