What is Filet Mignon And How To Cook It Perfectly Every Time

A filet mignon dinner can be expensive and is usually reserved for special occasions. Our dinner menu features various versions of filet mignon, including appetizers and entrees. A fillet mignon recipe is the next best option when you want to dine in and are looking for less costly alternatives. A great cut of filet mignon can be eaten with just a fork and can be cooked from the comfort of your own home. We’ll show you a simple but delicious filet mignon recipe you can make in your own kitchen while watching your favorite TV show at home. 

What is Filet Mignon

Besides being a tender and juicy cut of beef, the name is originally French, meaning small and pretty. Filet Mignon comes from the center of the tenderloin, also referred to as the short loin. This meat is located within the ribcage of a cow. Since this muscle does not bear weight, it doesn’t have the same connective tissue needed to toughen the meat in the same way other parts do. 

Where Does Filet Mignon Come From? 

The muscle is formerly called psoas major, and it is inside a cow’s ribs, close to the backbone. The meat gets thicker toward the rear of the cow but is more narrow on the opposite end by the ribs. Every cow has two tenderloins located on each rib cage. The results are incredibly tender meat that melts in your mouth. 

What cut of meat is filet mignon? The filet mignon cut comes from the middle of the tenderloin in between the narrow area near the shoulder referred to as the “tail” and thicker areas towards the rear called Chateaubriand. Other steaks that you may be familiar with, like Porterhouse and T-bone, also contain a filet mignon medallion located on the other side of the bone across from the sirloin.

When you go to your closest grocery store, the butcher will cut slices one to two inches thick and two to three inches in diameter. A true filet mignon is cut no more than an inch thick in diameter from the narrow end. They are naturally round since they come from a tube-shaped lot of the muscle. 

You might have also noticed the silverskin that surrounds some cuts of meat. This is a shiny white strip of cartilage that is removed since it can be hard to chew. All fat is trimmed, but when it’s not, it can enhance the flavor of the meat. 

The Perfect Filet Mignon Recipe

What is filet mignon without exceptional preparation? Although it is very tender, it is not as flavorful as other cuts of meat. For this reason, it is usually served with a sauce or compound butter. It is often marinated, seasoned with a rub, wrapped in bacon, or smoked. 

There are a variety of ways to make a filet mignon recipe, including broiling, roasting, grilling, or pan-frying on high heat. Once it’s seared on both sides, it is transferred to lower heat to ensure its cooked all the way through. It is a great choice as a cubed addition to stews, hot pots, or kebabs. Regardless of how you choose to eat filet mignon, here are a few best practices of how to cook it well every time: 

  • Room temperature – Before you begin cooking, take the filet mignon out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow it to come to room temperature. This will help to cook the meat evenly. 
  • Barding – Filet mignon and beef tenderloins don’t have a layer of fat that surrounds them, so they are wrapped in layers of fat, formally known as barding. It consists of bacon fat or lard and helps to keep the meat from drying while adding flavor. 
  • High heat – When you start to cook filet mignon, make sure to use a high heat method like pan-frying, broiling, or grilling.
  • Cooking – Filet mignon should never be cooked beyond medium-rare since it consists of little to no fat. You want to retain its juicy tenderness with less cooking time. 
  • Thermometer – If you never use a thermometer when you’re cooking, this is the time to use it. To ensure your filet mignon is at the perfect temperature of 120 degrees, a thermometer or touch method will signal that the meat is ready to be removed from heat. You should expect the temperature to continue to rise a little while it is resting. 

When using the touch method, if you press the meat and it feels mushy and leaves an imprint, it is rare. If it feels somewhat resistant, it is medium-rare. At any time you press the meat, and it feels firm, it is overdone. Never cut the meat to check if it’s done since this will let the juices escape. 

  • Resting – Always cover the meat with foil and let rest for a few minutes before serving once you’ve removed it from the heat. This gives the juices a chance to evenly distribute themselves throughout the filet mignon before you cut into it. 
  • Serving – One of the most popular and tasty ways to serve filet mignon is with compound butter, Bearnaise, or Bordelaise sauce. Another easy but delicious option is to use the pain juices as a sauce. 

Varieties of Filet Mignon

What is filet mignon without a little variety? The cut of the meat will always remain the same but may come from different breeds of cattle with its unique characteristics. This can make a difference in tastes and texture that more seasoned chefs and steak connoisseurs are familiar with. The way they are raised can also have an impact on how filet mignon may taste. 

Where does filet mignon come from? A majority of cattle in the U.S. are raised on a high corn diet, making them fat and flavorful. You’ll notice many more meat labels saying “grass-fed,” organic, or “free-range,” indicating a more natural diet. This shows that the cattle are raised on a pasture where they are free to find grass as they see it. Many farmers do a mix of these two methods to fatten them before the slaughter. There are over 70 types of cattle breeds in the country, but we’ve included the most well known six: 

  • Black Angus – You’ll likely recognize this cattle brand since it is one of the most popular in the U.S., with great marbling and flavor. 
  • Charolais – Originating in the town of Charolles in central France, this breed is popular in France for its rich flavors. 
  • Chianina – If you’ve ever had Bistecca Alla Florentina, you likely had this thick T-bone steak grilled rare over a fire and drizzled with olive oil. It is originally from Val di Chiana in Tuscany, Italy.
  • Piedmontese – Also known as Razza Piemontese, it is the prominent cattle breed in Piedmont located in the northwestern part of Italy. It is naturally low in fat and widely used in most Piedmontese dishes. 
  • Highland – These small cows produce meat that is highly marbled and low in fat in Scottland. 

Wagyu – Originating from Kobe, Japan, this beef has exceptional marbling and rich flavor, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth experience that is unparalleled anywhere else.

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