How to Cook a Perfect Filet Mignon?

12 Mar
Filet Mignon with Broccoli and Snap Peas

Filet Mignon with Broccoli and Snap Peas

The last time I stopped home, my parents were nice enough to gift me a filet mignon. Filet mignon comes from the tenderloin of beef. This muscle is not overly used, so the meat is exceptionally tender and lean. The lack of fat makes filet a bit more difficult to prepare than say a New York Strip steak, which has lots of marbleized fat to forgive a cooking mistake. With filet though, if cooked too long, it loses flavor and you end up losing $20. I love filet, but on the drive back to college, I realized I had no idea how to cook one.

I’ve watched my dad grill off filets for years but I’ve never seen one cooked indoors. Like a true cooking pro, I turned to Google in search of answers and found some suggestions for pan cooking filet mignon. I took what I read, wrapped it up with what I’ve seen on the Food Network and dove headfirst into the world of cooking red meat.

Filet Mignon seasoned with salt, black pepper and Cayenne pepper

Filet Mignon seasoned with salt, black pepper and Cayenne pepper

How I Cooked my First Filet Mignon

Step 1: Heavily season both sides of the filet with salt, black pepper, and crushed Cayenne pepper.

I like my meat highly seasoned, but that’s mostly because my dad’s the grill man and in love with Montreal seasoning. If you’re not as into peppery steak, cut back on the spices.

Step 2: In a small pan on high heat, add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat until the two blend together and coat the bottom of the pan.

I like mixing butter and olive oil because it allows you to retain the buttery flavor, while cutting the saturated fat and increasing the smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature that a fat or oil breaks down, begins to smoke and loses its sweet flavor. Butter has a lower smoke point than olive oil, so by mixing the two, you’re able to heat your pan to a higher temperature without burning the butter.

Pan with Olive Oil and Butter

Pan with Olive Oil and Butter

Step 3: Place the filet in the hot pan and sear for five minutes on one side. Flip and sear for five minutes on the other side. Spoon the olive oil and butter mixture over the filet while it cooks. This locks in the flavor.

Step 4: Take the filet out of pan and let it rest for five minutes. Resting the steak allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and prevent them from running out of the muscle the moment you cut it, which makes the meat dry and leathery.

For my first time cooking filet, it didn’t turn out too bad. The outside was browned and crispy, while the inside was tender and red. I’m still learning meat temperatures, but I’d say this steak came out medium-rare. I’m more of a medium girl, but I wasn’t sure how to get my steak up to medium without turning the outside into charcoal. Here’s where a meat thermometer would come in handy, so if you have one, use it. As a broke college student, I don’t have one at my disposal, so it’s all about feel, timing and  guessing.

Medium-Rare Filet Mignon

Medium-Rare Filet Mignon

How I’d Cook my Next Filet Mignon

I turned back to the Internet to see if there were any suggestions on how to cook a filet to medium. I found some great tips for next time.

  1. Bring the filet to room temperature before cooking it. This will help the steak cook more evenly.
  2. In a hot pan, sear for three to four minutes on both sides.
  3. After searing, throw the filet in a 450-degree oven for six minutes. This will cook the inside more without burning the outside.

How do you cook filet? Any tips I missed? Leave a comment because I’d love to hear them!

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