What Is Filet mignon?
Filet mignon refers to thick slices taken from the tenderloin or eye fillet. This muscle is not weight-bearing, and therefore the connective tissue is not toughened by exercise – meaning the meat is extremely tender and very lean.
Filet mignon (in French, ‘filet’ means ‘thick slice’ and ‘mignon’ means ‘dainty’) is widely considered to be the crème de la crème of steak, thanks to its melt-in-your-mouth texture. Although the tenderloin is quite expensive when dining out, it can be affordable to make at home.
Filet mignon, or tenderloin, has a very mild beef aroma and flavour compared to other steaks. Filet mignon is also popular with people who prefer smaller portions, since it is typically a smaller steak. Those who prefer bigger portions can get the ‘chateaubriand’, which is basically a roast-size tenderloin.
Choosing Filet Mignon
Filet mignon doesn’t have the fat marbling that signifies great flavour in other beef cuts. So, what should you look for when choosing filet mignon in the supermarket or butcher? Look for filet mignon steaks that are MSA graded (they will have the ‘Meat Standards Australia Graded’ symbol) as this guarantees quality. You should aim for steaks of the same shape and thickness (for consistency of cooking), and the steaks should be firm to the touch. You should also opt for lighter coloured (rather than dark red) steaks.
Cooking Filet Mignon
Filet mignon steaks should always be cooked used a dry, direct heat method like grilling, broiling, pan-frying or roasting. Filet mignon should never be cooked beyond medium-rare, as the longer you cook the meat, the more tough and dry it becomes. Because filet mignons don’t have strong flavour, they are often served with an accompanying sauce, marinated, smoked, wrapped in bacon (which also prevents the meat from drying out – this is referred to as ‘barding), or seasoned with a rub.
Filet mignons pair best with soft red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you are serving the filets with a sauce, try to incorporate some of the wine into the sauce to tie the pair together.