How do you cook filet mignon?


There are a bunch of ways to cook filet mignon, the most perfect cut of beef (in my humble opinion).  I’m not saying this is the best way, but this is how I do it.

Needed:

1 piece of filet mignon, I usually get about 1 lb.
olive oil, butter, or schmaltz (chicken fat) – this is optional
shallots
red wine (optional)
salt and pepper
kale (optional – I think you should eat kale with filet mignon, but that’s how I am)

meat thermometer – I use an Oxo Good Grips Digital Instant Meat Thermometer (pictured below)

Let the meat sit out for a while.  Because I have the butcher vacuum-pack the beef and I know it’s fresh, I feel okay about putting it out on the counter for an hour or two before cooking.  I’m not telling you this is safe — I am no food safety expert — I’m just telling you  how I do it.  If it’s too cold when you start cooking it, you have to overcook the outside to get the inside cooked.

Filet Mignon

Around 60ºF is where I like the meat to start.

I season it with some salt and pepper (I really like Borsari salt, sold in Whole Foods).

I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but sometimes I heat the filet in a dry pan.  Many people use either olive oil or chicken fat  in a hot pan to sear the outside, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.  I made this one a little differently – starting off with the seasoned filet (“pretty side” up) in a dry pan in the oven and finishing on the stove top.

Filet

Put the filet in a 325ºF oven (middle rack) to heat gently and release some liquid, “ugly” side down.

I then turn it so put the “pretty” side in the liquid so it doesn’t dry out too much (or overcook on one side).

Filet turned

Turn the filet over to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

Put the pan back in the oven for about 10 minutes or so until the temperature reaches about 145ºF.

Filet half way done

The filet is half way done (in terms of work – it’s nearly done in terms of temperature).

Take it out of the pan, let it sit on a plate and rest for about 10 minutes.  You should see some pink juices run out.  Put the juices and some diced shallots in the pan, scraping up any brown bits to stir them into the liquid.  You can see that the meat is pretty rare at this point.

Almost done

Return meat, juices to pan with diced shallots.

The juices should be heated up to steaming and the shallots are cooking.  Now, return the filet to the pan and brown in the thickening juices until just before you get your desired done-ness, turning the meat so it doesn’t cook too much on one side.  Don’t overcook!

Take out the meat and put it on a dish to let it rest to finish cooking.  In the mean time, put your pan with the browned parts and shallots over a medium flame and add some wine or beef broth, or both.  This makes a nice sauce.

Browned bits and shallots

Add some wine, broth or both to the browned bits and shallots and stir, scraping up all the browned parts from the pan. Reduce until it’s a sauce-like or chutney-like consistency.

Remove the twine holding the filet together (if there is any), slice into 1″ or so pieces, place the meat on the shallot sauce/chutney you made and serve with steamed kale (my favorite).

All done

This is the amount of steamed kale I eat with a piece of filet mignon. Dark green leafy vegetables in abundance are a good balance for red meat.

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