Ah, Filet Mignon. Yes, it’s fancy. Yes, it’s expensive. And, yes, I have been afraid to cook it. But, let me assure you, it is not as intimidating as one might think. Here is how I cook the perfect filet mignon.
I Enjoy a Good Steak
As my friends can attest: I am a meat eater. Pork ribs. Pork Chops. Rib Eyes. Porterhouse. T-Bones. Yes, yes, and yes please! I even like meat in my dessert! Seriously, I can chomp down on some meat. Key word to focus on here is “chomp”. Notice all my favorite meats have bone-in cuts?
I can knife and fork it with the best of them. However, my favorite part is when I can put down the knife and fork, pick up the bone with my fingers and go to town.
Until recently, I have purposely shied away from filet mignon for a few reasons. First, it has no bone. Second, it’s a really small portion. And, lastly, I know the chef will look at me like I’ve just sprouted another set of ears when I say I want it just shy of well done.
And, in the interest of full disclosure – filet mignon is almost always the most expensive cut of beef on any menu so my eyes tend to slide right over it like it’s not even on the menu. I’m
cheap frugal. Ok. we’ll go with cheap because I seriously just baked some biscotti because in my mind, that’s cheaper than turning on the heat. Don’t judge.
What’s in a Name?
The name alone: Filet Mignon, conjures up elegant table settings and pinky fingers extended as dainty knives easily slice through a tiny piece of meat that barely takes up any space on the plate. In French, Filet Mignon translates to “tender filet” or “delicate” filet. Which translates in my brain to “not to be eaten with chomp and you’re still gonna be hungry after”.
Thanks to my sister-in-law, Mary, who gave me a gift card to Butcher Box for my birthday, I am a different woman. The pre-packaged gift box that I chose had all my favorites; rib eyes, new york strip, and pork chops. In addition, it also had two filet mignons, but I was gonna roll with it.
Changed my life.
How I Misunderstood Filet Mignon
I always thought of filet mignon (and prime rib) as “soft” meat. Not really a “steak” that you can sink your teeth into. The texture is feels funny to me. I have this curious thing about food: it can’t have a weird texture. If it feels funny on my tongue, it’s hard for me to enjoy.
- Cottage cheese, (nope, still not eating it)
- okra (despised as a kid, absolutely love now)
- flan (love it now)
- tofu (umm, no)
- raw oysters (oh, hell to the no).
So maybe my taste buds have matured, or I’m a more enlightened eater or I now know a better word for my concept of “soft” is “tender”.
And filet mignon is Oh. My. Melt. In. Your. Mouth. Tender. Seriously. That’s because it comes from a part of the cow (tenderloin) that is non-weight bearing, therefore, not toughened by exercise.
How To Cook the Perfect Filet Mignon
So now we know, filet mignon is really beef tenderloin that’s been sliced into filets. You can ask your butcher to slice it to your desired thickness and tie it up using butcher twine. You tie it to have a nice plump shape – always nice for presentation. This ensures the filets will keep that nice shape during cooking. I ventured into The Organic Butcher of McLean and bought some filets, which I had sliced to about 2 inches thick.
First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Bring the filets to room temperature by removing them from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Season these very simply. Sea salt and cracked black pepper on both sides. Season the edges by putting salt and pepper onto the plate and rolling each filet in the seasoning.
I love to cook in my cast iron skillet. Place a medium to large oven proof skillet over a medium high heat. Add in the olive oil. Let it get hot, but not smoking hot.
Place the filets into the skillet and sear for 4 minutes.
While you are waiting, put your hands in your pockets so that you don’t touch them until the 4 minutes is up.
After 4 minutes, turn them over. You know what to do with your hands.
After 3 minutes on the second side, stand the filet mignons up on one edge and let them cook for about a 45-60 seconds on each edge. Depending on the shape of your filets, you may do this four times. Or three. This step is totally optional. I just like to get a bit of browning on the edges.
Lay the filet mignons back down and transfer the skillet to your preheated oven. Depending on how you like your red meat cooked will determine how long you leave them in the oven. For rare – 4 to 6 minutes, for medium-rare – 5 to 7 minutes and for medium, which I prefer, 6 to 8 minutes. Because thickness will vary, using a meat thermometer is the best way to check how your meat is cooked. Do yourself a favor…get an instant digital read thermometer. Much easier.
The meat will continue to cook while resting, therefore stop 2-5 degrees before your desired temperature.
Beef Cook Temperatures Guide
- Rare: 120°-125°F,
- Medium Rare: 130°-135°F,
- Medium: 135°-140°F
- Medium Well: 145°-150°F
- Well Done: I’m not even going to give you this. This is not a cut of meat you “chomp” on!!
Remove the skillet from the oven and remove the filet mignons to a plate to let the filets rest. If you choose, you can add a pat of butter (or ghee) to each steak, then lightly tent with foil. Let them rest for 3-5 minutes.
Filet Mignon will definitely make it into our dinner rotation. They are expensive so the rotation will be special occasions like Valentines Day, Christmas, Birthdays or when that tax refund comes in!
I cooked these for a couple of friends that came over for dinner. I was pretty impressed with myself. Filet Mignon! Definitely impressive.
I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back!
But alas, karma came to dinner as well: it’s really humiliating and humbling when you have to go around to each plate with scissors and remove the butcher twine that you forgot was there! Kit and Mike, thank you for being gracious enough not to laugh!!! However, we can all laugh now!
Remember to remove the twine before serving! Just saying.
If you’d like to pin:
The Perfect Filet Mignon
- 4 2 inch thick filet mignons
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Remove filets from refrigerator 1/2 hour before cooking to bring to room temperature.
- Season filets with sea salt and pepper, using your personal judgement in the amount that you prefer.
- Heat a medium to large oven safe skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let it get hot. Not smoking hot, but hot.
- Place the filets into the skillet and do not touch for 4 minutes.
- Using tongs, turn the filets over and sear for 3 minutes, again, do not disturb them while they cook.
- Slightly brown the edges by standing each filet up on it's edges for about 45 seconds each edge. Lay them back down when finished with the edges. Browning the edges is completely optional.
- Place skillet into the oven and cook to your desired doneness. For rare – 4 to 6 minutes, for medium-rare – 5 to 7 minutes and for medium, which I prefer, 6 to 8 minutes.If using a meat thermometer (remove from oven 2-5 degrees before desired temperature, as the cooking continues slightly as meat rests):Rare: 120°-125°F,
Medium Rare: 130°-135°F, Medium: 135°-140°F Medium Well: 145°-150°F Well Done: I’m not even going to give you this. This is not a cut of meat you “chomp” on!!
- Remove the skillet from the oven and remove the filets to a plate. If desired, you can add a pat of softened butter on top of each filet (or ghee to remain paleo).Tent loosely with foil and allow the meat to rest 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the butcher twine (if present) and serve.
Not that you’re gonna have left overs, but if you did, you could use the leftover filet in my Grilled Steak Taco recipe. Talk about a fancy taco!!!
Last update on 2020-01-28 at 18:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API