If you're like me then you also used to hear 'filet mignon' and think that it was a type of specialty french fish dish. Maybe not, but regardless, you probably heard of it and were unsure of what it was.
Oui, the term 'filet mignon' is French. In this case, it is directly translated to 'cute filet', 'cute' meaning more like 'fine' or 'tasteful' and 'filet' refers to it being thick and boneless.
Cut from the small end of the tenderloin area of an animal, the meat isn't affected by exercise or weight-bearing. Filet mignon is the most tender meat you can taste.
I know your mouth is already watering, but after reading this guide you'll know the history and fun facts of filet mignon and also how to perfectly prepare your own. You'll practically be grilling on La Seine.
Filet Mignon: A History and Facts
The term 'Filet Mignon' was first used by William Sydney Porter, known mostly by his pen name O. Henry. In 1906, he used the term in his short story 'The Four Million'. One of his characters was enjoying 'filet mignon with champignons. 'Champignions' means mushrooms in french.
Mysteriously, no one officially knows how the 'Oh Henry!' chocolate bar got its name, but there is a rumor that it was also from Sir O. Henry.
Even though filet mignon is French, if you're at a French restaurant and you order 'filet mignon' you'll be surprised when you receive the tenderloin of a pig. In France, filet mignon is called 'tournedo'.
Filet Mignon is a fine dining dish in most areas of the world besides France and the US. If you're on vacation in one of these countries and you feel like enjoying a filet mignon, know what to ask for: Argentina: 'Bife de Lamo', Puerto Rico: 'Filete Miñón. Netherlands: 'Ossehass'.
Filet Mignon is usually a more expensive item on a menu because it's a rare cut. An average heifer or steer only produces 500 grams of filet mignon. The precious tenderloin has also built up a reputation over the years, everyone has heard of it. We usually pay more for name-brand items than we do for value items. Combine that with the rareness of the cut and you've got a pricy meal.
The USDA grades meat and categorizes them based on the results. Filet mignon, or 'prime tenderloin' falls in the top 2%. Japanese Wagyu is a prime example.
A 4 oz filet mignon has 200 calories and 29 grams of protein. Lots of people find high protein in several other meals but filet mignon is the purest option.
These days, there is a 'National Day' for practically everything. That includes filet mignon. National Filet Mignon Day is August 13th, so if you're a fan of grilling and hosting backyard barbecues, remember this day.
To The Butcher!
We all would like to say that we made our filet mignon, so rather than going out to a restaurant, support your local butcher, or better yet, check out our options of world-class steaks.
There are several types of juicy filet steaks to devour: super trimmed, bone-in, bacon-wrapped, tenderloin, t-bone, and porterhouse are just to name a few, but when purchasing a filet mignon steak it's important to know how to tell that you're getting the best slices.
When you're picking out filet mignons, what you're looking for is thickness, marbling, and color.
Thickness is up to you, depending on how you like your meat to be cooked. If you prefer medium to medium-well you should get a thinner cut. The recommended size for the ideal filet mignon experience is 3 inches thick.
Marbling is the white streaks or flecks of fat mingling around the interior of a steak. This is where the flavor is stored. It's said that a cut of steak is better when it has very visible marbling. However, this isn't the case with filet mignons. Another unique feature of filet mignons is that they have less marbling than your everyday steak, but you should still ensure it has at least some visible streaks.
The best color for a raw filet mignon is dark pink to red. Understandably, it's not easy to tell the difference but make sure it's not too light or dry looking. If you have to spend time inspecting it at the store or butcher, so be it, it's well worth it.
Make sure there is no silver skin, and that it's well-trimmed into even slices. This will ensure that each slice will take the same amount of time to grill.
Get Your Stove Ready!
You have your slice, or slices, of perfectly colored, trimmed, marbled filet mignon steak just waiting to be cooked. Now you need the recipe for how to make the best batch.
This recipe doesn't require much more than the steak and you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already.
Filet mignon seared with butter and garlic herbs is easy yet naturally delicious. All the herbs fuse with the butter and melt right throughout the steak. You can prepare this version rare, medium-rare, or even well done (although cooking it well done might defeat the purpose).
How To Grill Filet Mignon
Filet mignon cast iron style then filet mignon in oven? That combination is exemplar teamwork and is also the simplest way to cook.
You'll want to make sure that you take your steaks out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to cook them. If they're still cold when they hit the sizzling pan the outside will cook faster than the inside and that's not what we're looking for.
Once you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 450F. Then get the pan out and add the butter, garlic, and other herbs. There is no specific type of butter to use, but because filet mignon is quite costly meat, you might want to pair it with quality butter, and of course, make sure the garlic and herbs are fresh.
Next, give the meat a nice layer of salt on both sides. Once again, there is not a certain type of salt to use but you can use your good judgment on how to salt steak like a filet mignon.
Turn the stove on medium-high heat. The butter is supposed to melt and foam, not burn, so it's key to keep whisking it around the pan until you can tell it's ready.
The Best Part
Once the butter is perfectly melted and all the herbs are well mixed in, add the steak to the pan. While the steaks are searing, use a spoon to continuously add butter on top. This will infuse all the flavor into the meat. Sear one side for 1-2 minutes, flip it, then sear the other for the same time.
Once your steaks are seared to perfection put them inside the oven/grill. The length of time to cook them depends on how you want your meat.
Rare: 8-10 minutes
Medium Rare: 9-11 minutes
Medium: 10 - 13 minutes
Medium Well: 11-14 minutes
You have to keep an eye on your steaks, especially while they're in the oven. After the halfway point of whichever option you choose, you should flip them every minute or so to continue to ensure an evenly cooked steak.
Time To Eat
And Voila, in under 25 minutes you've prepared probably one of the most delicious meals. Let it rest for 5 minutes then add it to your plate. Some nice side dishes to go with it are often baked or mashed potatoes, oven-roasted asparagus, a light salad, and a nice glass of wine. Don't overdress the side dishes because you want your filet mignon to be the most memorable dish.
You'll probably consider yourself to be an expert after this. To find out how to get steaks delivered to your front door, or for recipes from steak to lobster, and for general information on the community of grilling aficionados, visit our website to learn everything.
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