Renowned as perhaps the most desirable and most tender of cuts, Filet Mignon is sought-after for good reason. With a name that means “cute filet” in French, Filet is in fact known for its rounded, chunky and tall appearance. This August 13th, you can fire up the grill – or your oven or skillet – in celebration of National Filet Mignon Day. Take a crash course right here at Steak University on the history, definitions, recipes and cooking techniques that make the filet so crave-able and flavorful!
What is Filet Mignon?
Filet Mignon is a cut from the middle of the tenderloin of the cattle. The muscle that it’s cut from is known as the psoas major, and is generally not used very much, which makes it particularly soft and tender.
The psoas major is a long strand that connects the shoulder region (inside the ribs) with the femur (or thigh bone). Naturally, cattle have two – one on each side of their body – and as mentioned above, the filet cuts come from the middle of tenderloin. The top of the muscle, nearest the shoulders, is known as the “tail”, and the thicker part at the bottom is often called “Chateaubriand”.
How does Filet Mignon taste?
Filet’s reputation often precedes it: often referred to as “buttery“, or “tender“, the truth is that it’s the softest cut of steak one can order. Mignon is ideal for those who don’t appreciate tougher or gristly cuts and also for those who want to enjoy a relatively low-fat steak. It’s popularity lies in part in the fact that other cuts of steak are either low-fat but tougher, or tender but higher in fat. Filet sits comfortably between the two poles and offers diner the best of both worlds – and that’s to say nothing of its unique taste apart from its texture.
How should I prepare Filet Mignon?
For those looking for a steak in a classic style with a rich, brown crust, consider using a cast-iron skillet on your stove. Simple and delicious, this method might be for you, but beware – thicker-cut steaks and who may want greater levels of doneness may need to finish their filet off in the oven for several minutes.
On the Grill
A better option for steaks 2 inches or greater in thickness, a grilled filet mignon gives diners some rather sporty grill marks (or consider them racing stripes, if you prefer) and a characteristic feel. Don’t forget to oil your grill with some olive oil and allow it to get up to between 400 and 450 degrees before putting your steaks on, with a bit of salt & pepper resting atop them. An instant-read thermometer is essential here, as it’ll allow you to quickly and safely read temperatures and keep a medium-rare steak medium-rare. At the above-mentioned temperatures, you’ll only need to grill the steaks for about 5 minutes per side and voilà!