by Daniel Urmann
mignon is French, of course, with filet meaning "thick
slice" and mignon meaning "dainty." Filet
mignon comes from the small end of the tenderloin (called
the short loin) which is found on the back rib cage
of the animal. In the UK it is known as fillet steak.
This area of the animal is not weight-bearing, thus
the connective tissue is not toughened by exercise resulting
in extremely tender meat. This also means that the meat
lacks some of the flavor held by meat that has the bone
order keep the flavor, you must cook filet mignon quickly.
This can be done in a variety of ways, including broiling
and grilling. It should never be cooked beyond medium
rare, because the more done it is, the less tender and
more dry it becomes and the more flavor it will lose.
You should always use a dry method of cooking, even
when it will be a quick method. Methods of cooking that
are dry are such types as roasting, pan frying, grilling,
this cut of meat is more dry than others, you will not
want to cut the meat to check to see if it is done.
Instead, you should touch it. The touch method of checking
is not as hard as it may sound:
If the meat feels hard or firm, it is too done.
the filet mignon is soft when you touch it and your
finger leaves an imprint, it is rare.
it is still soft, but leaves no imprint, and is slightly
resilient, then it is medium rare (best for this particular
type of meat).
reason filet mignon is often wrapped in bacon (this
wrapping is called barding or larding) is because this
particular cut of meat has no layer of fat around it.
The bacon not only adds extra flavor to the filet mignon,
it also gives it the fat necessary to keep the meat
from drying out. This is a concern as the filet mignon
has less fat than most cuts of beef.
to serve with Filet Mignon
the flavor of filet mignon tends to be quite mild, many
people prefer to serve it with sauces, either smothering
the beef or as a dip. There are many different choices
for the best sauce for filet mignon and most depend
solely on the person's particular flavor preference.
Some consumers prefer to have a certain type of steak
sauce for dipping and some may prefer a marinade to
add flavor during cooking. Either of these can turn
and Filet Mignon
are many different types of wines that are good to serve
with filet mignon, and determining which one will go
best with it depends largely on the flavor of the sauce.
This is especially true if the sauce is rather strong,
or has a flavor that is stronger than the filet mignon
itself. The best wines to match with filet mignon are
dry, red wines such as Merlot. If your preference is
a sweet wine, you may want to consider trying a White
Zinfandel (if this is your choice, though, you will
not want to use very much pepper on the filet mignon).
If you are a white wine drinker, the best match for
filet mignon will be a rich Chardonnay.
for cooking Filet Mignon
selecting tenderloin or slices, choose the lighter
color over dark red. This indicates more marbling
which makes it more tender. This cut is so tender
that it should never be cooked beyond a medium rare
stage. The longer you cook it, the less tender and
more dry it becomes.
a dry, high heat method such as broiling, roasting,
pan-frying or grilling for this tender cut.
tenderloin is wonderful to stuff or bake en croute
(in savory pastry).
into the meat to check doneness allows precious juices
to escape. Use the touch method. Press the meat. If
it feels soft and mushy and leaves an imprint, it
is rare. If it is soft, but slightly resilient, it
is medium rare. The minute it begins to feel firm,
it is overdone.
the tenderloin has no surrounding fat tissue, it is
often wrapped in a layer of fat (called barding or
larding) such as suet or bacon to keep it from drying
out. Likewise with filet slices. The barding also
tenderloin is a popular choice for fondue hot-pots
ensure even cooking when roasting the whole tenderloin,
the small end should be tucked up and tied or trimmed
for other use.
Urmann was a contributor and author for the website
Big Sky Filet Mignon (site now closed)