The Ultimate Guide to Cooking the Perfect Filet Mignon

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Looking to impress your dinner guests or just treat yourself to a special meal? Look no further than filet mignon, a steak that is known for its unrivaled tenderness and delectable flavor. While it can be on the pricey side, it's worth learning how to cook filet mignon to perfection.

But first, a little background. Filet mignon is cut from the beef tenderloin, which is a lean cut of meat located near the spine. The muscle that constitutes filet mignon doesn't do a lot of heavy lifting, which is why it is so tender. However, this also means that it is relatively lean, lacking the marbling that characterizes other steak cuts.

Two cooked filet mignon steaks in a cast iron skillet, topped with butter.

Despite its lack of fat and reduced "beefiness," filet mignon still packs plenty of flavor. Keep things simple with a bit of butter and herbs or, for an extra indulgent treat, try wrapping it in bacon.

While you can certainly purchase filet mignon pre-cut at the grocery store or butcher, you can save a few bucks by buying a whole beef tenderloin and trimming it yourself. Not sure how to go about it? Check out this photo tutorial to learn how to cut filet mignon steaks like a pro.

When it comes to cooking your steaks, opinions vary on whether you should let them come to room temperature prior to searing them. If you prefer your steak cooked to medium-well or well-done, you may find it helpful to give them 30 minutes or so to warm up. Otherwise, you run the risk of overcooking the exterior while the interior is still too cool.

Do you enjoy your steak extra rare? If so, you may have been taking it out of the fridge early. Some people do this to make sure that the steak is evenly cooked, but I'm not convinced. In fact, I think it's harder to get a good sear on a steak that won't be cooking for very long.

Whole, trimmed beef tenderloin.Whole Beef Tenderloin on cutting board

Fortunately, there's an easy technique to achieve a darker, crisper crust: cook your steak straight from the fridge. This will make it take longer to reach your desired internal temperature, so you'll be able to sear it for longer, resulting in a better crust.

Center-cut and end-cut beef tenderloin steaks on wooden board.

Whether you prefer rare or well-done steak, it's up to you whether to take it out early or cook it straight from the fridge. But if you've always taken it out early and like it rare, give it a try! And if you prefer a well-done steak and haven't put it in the fridge before cooking, it's worth a shot.

Not sure if cooking straight from the fridge is the right choice? It's a widely accepted practice among many chefs, including Lynne Rosetto Kasper and J. Kenji López-Alt.

If you're wondering how to cook the perfect filet mignon, I recommend pan searing it in a hot cast iron skillet. Some recipes suggest searing on the stovetop and finishing in the oven, but I find that cooking solely on the stove is more convenient and prevents accidental overcooking.

To begin, sprinkle your filets with salt on all sides. If you choose to let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes, that's fine too. Regardless of your choice, preheat your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add cooking oil. When the oil is shimmering, add your filet mignon steaks and cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. I suggest using an instant-read thermometer to ensure your desired temperature is reached. If cooking straight from the fridge, add an extra minute or two.

Need a guide for cooking times based on temperature preference? Check out this chart:

  • Rare (120-125°F): 4 minutes each side
  • Medium-Rare (125-130°F): 5 minutes each side
  • Medium (135-140°F): 6 minutes each side
  • Medium-Well (145-150°F): 7-8 minutes each side
  • Well (160°F): 8-10 minutes each side

For an added touch of flavor, top your perfectly cooked filet mignon with a pat of butter. Consider a compound butter with garlic, herbs, and a special secret ingredient for a truly elevated dining experience.

Indulging in a crispy crust on your steak is a must for true steak enthusiasts. However, the presence of butter can sometimes cause it to lose its crispness. To maintain it, I’ve discovered a simple trick: place a dollop of butter underneath the steak. Since this spot is usually a bit moist, the butter will melt and infuse its flavor there, while keeping the crust intact and luscious. Whether you choose to use butter or not, whether it’s on the top or underneath, ensure that your steaks rest for at least five minutes before slicing or serving. Enjoy the perfect steak! - Christine

DESCRIPTION

Learn the art of cooking perfect filet mignon steaks. This recipe guarantees a succulent and flavorful beef tenderloin filet, seared to perfection on the stove, elevating your meal into a special occasion.

Unveil some fantastic tips from Christine while learning how to prepare this dish:

For more Recipe of the Day episodes, click here to listen.

Start by generously sprinkling salt over all sides of your steak. Set it aside for thirty minutes, if you wish to bring it to room temperature (see additional information on this point below). Meanwhile, heat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, then swirl around some oil. When the oil is shimmering, put the steaks into the skillet, and cook for five minutes. Turn over and cook for the same amount of time, or until they reach the desired level of doneness (see * for the approximate time and temperature ranges). If you like, slice some butter and place it on top or underneath the steaks, and let them rest for five minutes before consuming.

If you loved this recipe, please do scroll down and award it a *5-star rating* to spread the joy to others!

Notes

*Steaks may require additional cooking time if they are taken straight from the fridge.

Rare (120-125°F): 4 minutes per side

Medium-Rare (125-130°F): 5 minutes per side

Medium (135-140°F): 6 minutes per side

Medium-Well (145-150°F): 7 to 8 minutes per side

Well (160°F): 8-10 minutes per side

For COOK the STORY's nutrition and recipe disclaimers, click here.

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