How to Cook the Perfect Filet Mignon for One, Two, or a Crowd

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Filet mignon is a very tender cut of meat and when cooked well it can make a memorable meal. If you are trying to find out how to cook a perfect filet mignon then here’s the short and quick version: Get a fresh cut of meat from the butcher, season it generously with salt and pepper, heat an oven-safe skillet on the stove, then add the filet mignon and sear it on all sides to brown it. Place the seared filet in the oven at 400F, and then wait until it’s at your desired degree of doneness.

Unless you are a master at feeling the doneness of a steak by pressing on it, you will want to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.

Why Choose Filet Mignon Instead of Any Other Meat Cut?

The filet mignon is, quite possibly, one of the best meat cuts you can get. This isn’t a personal opinion – it’s a statement of fact!

The filet mignon comes from a part of the cow that gets no stress and little to no movement. This means the filet mignon will have close to no muscle development, a perfect thing if you’re looking for extra-tender meat.

A lot of people feel turned off by the idea of filet mignon because it’s an overpriced item at restaurants – but when cooked at home it’s just as delicious at a fraction of the price.

What to Look for When Buying Filet Mignon

Filet mignon is a pricey cut of beef. That means you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Here are some characteristics to keep an eye out for when buying this cut of meat.

Marbling

Filet mignon generally has a lower amount of fat than other beef cuts, so don’t expect a lot of marbling. If you are looking for a fattier cut of meat that is more expensive, look for some wagyu. The more marbling a cut of meat has, the more flavor it can potentially offer when cooked well.

Color

Make sure the filet mignon’s color shows rich pinkish red. Stay away from meat that looks close to expiring and is graying or has yellowing fat. Yellow fat and greying meat is a sign the cut of meat is not as fresh as it was when first cut.

Center cut

A center cut of filet mignon cooks easier. Filet mignon, depending on the cut, can either be the primary muscle of the cut or consist of the two muscles of the area. The center cut is the primary muscle. Since made of just one muscle instead of two, a center cut cooks with more consistency, and you don’t need to worry about two muscles dividing into sections when you cook the filet mignon.

USDA grading

The USDA has a grading system that rates how nice a cut of meat is. You want to go for a prime or choice grade if available.

Thickness

Try to select cuts of filet mignon that are about the same thickness. That way you can be sure they’ll cook evenly and in about the same amount of time. Different butchers sell them in different size cuts. Sometimes only 1 inch cuts are available, but you can also ask the butcher for a thicker cut. Be aware that the thicker the cut of meat, the longer it will take to cook throughout.

Ingredients

  • 1 Filet mignon
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Prepping the Filet Mignon

Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to start making filet mignon. Get out those ingredients out because here we go!

Step 1: Start with a fresh cut

The key to a good steak is getting a fresh cut of meat. If it is a few days old, it isn’t going to taste as good. Try to get the steak from the butcher the day of or day before it will be cooked.

If you have to freeze the steak, be sure to thaw it out in the refrigerator over night.

Step 2: Season generously

Remove the steak from the fridge and let it rest for 30 minutes. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper.

Cooking the Filet Mignon

Step 1: Preheat the oven and skillet

Turn the oven on at 400F (205C ), and while the oven heats up, also heat up an oven-safe skillet such as cast iron.

Drizzle a little olive oil on the skillet and bring it to a medium heat.

Step 2: Cook the filet mignon

Once skillet has reached temperature, place the filet mignon on the skillet. Cook only for 2 minutes per side until seared with a nice brown char. Try to leave the steak in one spot while it sears rather than flipping it over several times.

Step 3: Move things into the oven

Once you’ve seared the filet mignon on both sides, put the skillet in the oven. The exact amount of time it takes for a steak to reach the desired temperature will depend on the thickness of the cut. Here are some estimated times based on our cooking experience with a 2 inch thick filet:

  • Medium rare, it will take about 6 minutes.
  • Medium, it will take about 8 minutes.
  • Medium well can take 10 minutes or so.
  • Well done will take at least 12 minutes.

Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer before serving the steak to be certain is has reached the desired internal temperature.

Step 4: Remove and rest

Once the desired internal temperature has been reached, remove the skillet from the oven and put the steaks on a plate to rest for 5 minutes.

When plating steak, be sure it has had time to rest otherwise it will leak juices on the plate you serve it on. Pair it with garlic mashed potatoes or mixed roasted vegetables for a hearty meal.

How Do I Get a Good Sear on my Filet Mignon?

You need to heat your pan to a high temperature before pouring the oil. Let the oil be close to smoking before you place your fillet mignon in the pan. That’s the only way to achieve that perfect searing!

Why Is My Filet Mignon Tough to Chew?

There are many potential causes for chewy steak. If the steak is not fresh, it could turn out a bit chewy when cooked.

Another potential cause of chewy steak is overcooking it. If you keep an eye on the temperature of the meat with a thermometer, then you should be able to avoid this problem.

Kitchen Safety

Anytime you cook with oil on the stove, it’s a good idea to keep some baking soda within easy reach. You probably won’t have to use it, but baking soda will quickly put out an oil fire. Being on the safe side and always keeping baking soda in the kitchen definitely wouldn’t hurt.

Remember to never use water to try and put out an oil fire! Since water and oil naturally don’t mix, the water will simply splash the oil around and potentially cause the fire to spread.

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