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How to Cook Filet Mignon on the Stove and Then in Oven

on January 26, 2016
People have been eating meat from bovines for centuries, and cattle have been domesticated since 8,000 B.C.. Beef became big business in the U.S. in the 19th century, when the Mexican-American war led to the acquisition of large areas of grassland. Longhorn cattle were the first to become a regular part of the American livestock industry. Ever since, a wide variety of cattle have provided different cuts of meat for the dinner table. Steak is one of the most popular types of beef, and it is available in several cuts, including sirloin, rump, t-bone, rib eye, hanger, and the ever popular filet mignon.   The word mignon comes from the French for “dainty” or “cute,” and filet mignon is one of the most delicate cuts of meat. This filet hails from the smaller end of the tenderloin, which runs along both sides of the cattle’s spine and tends to have the tenderest meat. In Australia and New Zealand, it is called an eye filet, while in Ireland it is known as a filet steak. The term “filet mignon” was first used in writing in 1906 in the book The Four Million by O. Henry.  

Filet Mignon Nutrition Value

  As paleo, primal, and low-carb diets become increasingly popular, people are becoming more aware of the nutritional value of steak. Filet mignon contains zero carbohydrates or sugar, and it is rich in protein, containing 22 grams per 3-ounce serving. That makes up 44% of the daily protein needs in an average diet, though of course low-carb dieters tend to eat more protein. A serving of filet mignon also contains 280 mg of potassium, or 8% of your daily value. Additionally, the steak boasts 7% of your daily value of iron, which can help to prevent anemia.   This tender cut of steak is particularly rich in vitamins B-12 and B6, respectively supplying 21% and 25% of your daily value of these very important nutrients, which can help prevent depression and keep nerve and blood cells healthy. A filet also contains small amounts of vitamin D and calcium (about 2% of your daily value) and 4% of your required magnesium for the day. By itself, before it is seasoned, this cut of meat has only 46 mg of sodium, or a mere 1% of your allowable daily intake.   On the negative side, steak in general is high in fat. A 3-ounce serving of filet mignon contains about 15 grams of total fat, 6 of which are from saturated fat (a sizable 30% of your daily value). A single cut also contains 82 mg of cholesterol, or 27% of your daily value.    

How Best to Prepare Filet Mignon

  A successful steak starts with choosing the right cut at the supermarket or butcher. When you go to buy your steak, first look at the marbling of the meat. You’ll probably want a medium amount of marbling, so it’s neither too fatty nor too lean. If possible, go for a cut that has been dry aged. (Ask your butcher if he or she dry ages the beef.)   Once you’ve selected a fine cut, follow these eight simple steps to prepare a fantastic filet mignon on the stove and in the oven. These instructions are for cooking a single 8 ounce filet (230 grams). That’s about two and half servings, according to the nutritional guide, but who really eats a standard serving size? Simply double or triple (or quadruple, if need be) the ingredients if you plan to cook more steaks for more people.   Here’s the process you need to follow to ensure your family or dinner guests are begging for more:  

1. Gather the necessary tools.

You’ll need a variety of kitchen tools to prepare your filet mignon to perfection. First, find a heavy and thick-walled skillet, such as cast iron or forged aluminum. Next, you’ll need paper towels for drying the steak, and tongs to flip it over during cooking. You’ll want a meat probe that provides an instant temperature reading so you know when your steak is done. You might also want an oven tray if you are using an oven-safe frying pan. Tin foil will come in handy, so have some nearby.  

2. Set aside your ingredients.

  Start with your 8-ounce steak. Very Important: Make sure you take the steak out of the fridge at least 40 minutes prior to when you plan to begin cooking it, or it will be too cold to sear quickly. You want it to be room temperature by the time you start. If it’s not, you may end up boiling rather than searing the sides. When you throw a cold hunk of meat in a warm skillet, the temperature drops quickly and sharply, and that leads to a less than perfect result.   In addition to the steak, you’ll need the following three key ingredients:   • 1 tbsp ghee oil or coconut oil • Kosher, flaked salt • Freshly ground black pepper    

3. Preheat the oven.

  Before you start searing your steak, get that oven up and running so it’s ready when you need it. Set it to 265 degrees Fahrenheit (or 130 Celsius) if you are running the fan, otherwise, you can set it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 Celsius. This temperature may seem low, but it is essential if you want to maintain the tender succulence of the steak and trap all that sensational juiciness inside. When you cook a steak slowly, you can better maintain its moisture and flavor.  

4. Pat dry your steak.

  You can aid surface browning with the use of paper towels. That’s right, paper towels. It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s quite effective. Simply pat dry your filet with a paper towel using a light, gentle tapping motion. How does that help? Well, when you remove extra moisture from the surface of the cut, it makes it easier to brown the steak inside the skillet. You can also use oven paper to achieve a similar effect, but don’t use tissues or toilet paper, which will stick to the steak.  

5. Season your steak.

  Use your thumb, middle finger, and forefinger to add two pinches of Kosher, flaked salt to each side of the steak. Why flaked salt? The lower density, as compared to table salt, allows you to use larger quantities without risk of over-salting your steak. When you sear your steak at high heat, a Malliard reaction occurs with the salt, and this enhances browning, creating a thicker, richer flavor. It’s not time for pepper yet, however. Pepper will burn in the skillet, leaving your steak with an unappetizing, charred flavor.    

6. Quickly sear the steak.

  Remember, the steak must be room temperature when you sear it. It should have been outside of the fridge for forty minutes at this point. If you forgot to take the steak out earlier, and you no longer have time to wait forty minutes, then you still need to get it to room temperature. In a pinch, use the microwave. Put your filet on a microwave-safe ceramic plate, free of all packaging, and heat it on the defrost setting for three to five seconds. Then stop and flip the steak and heat it for another three to five seconds. Do this several times (four to six) until your steak reaches room temperature, but be sure not to cook your filet in the microwave. The key is to use short amounts of time, at low power, with regular flipping.   Start by warming up the skillet. Turn your stove to the highest setting and put the skillet on the stovetop. Add a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil, which are excellent fats for high-temp cooking. Pause a moment while the oil heats up. When the skillet begins to smoke lightly, wait for another twenty second or so before you toss the steak inside the skillet and listen to it sizzle away.   While filet mignon is a small cut, it is often thick and square-like, rather than thin and flat. This means it has six sides, so to speak, and you should try to sear them all – the front and back side as well as the four lateral sides – for an even, delicious brown. If you can’t manage that, however, stick with the two main sides. Grab your meat tongs and flip that steak to sear it as evenly as possible, typically one minute per side, though you can go as long as two minutes if the brown doesn’t develop right away. Keep in mind, however, that you aren’t cooking the steak; you’re just browning it. If you let it sizzle for too long in the pan, it will be less juicy and tougher in the end.  

7. Transfer the steak to the oven.

  Once the steak is fully browned, it’s time to transfer it to the preheated oven. Use an oven tray lined with tin foil for easy cleaning later. If you have an oven-safe skillet, however, you can just use that and move it straight from the stove-top to the oven.   Cook your steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (or 55 degrees Celsius). You can check the temperature with an instant-read meat probe / thermometer. Measure the temperature after the steak has been in the oven for about ten minutes. If your probe is oven safe, you can just leave it in the steak when you first put it in the oven, flick on the oven light, and read the temperature through the door. The steak won’t yet be at its ideal temperature, but a reading ten minutes in will give you an idea of how much longer you should cook it. Most likely, you’ll need another 10 – 15 minutes, for a total cooking time of no more than 25 minutes.    

8. Cool, cut, and serve.

  Now that your filet mignon has reached its ideal temperature, it should be deliciously medium-rare. Remove it from the oven and place it on a plate or cutting board, and cover it with tin foil. You want it to cool down without becoming cold. The tin foil will keep the heat from escaping too quickly. Now wait for three minutes, or as long as five if the steak still feels too hot.   Unwrap the tinfoil and cut against the grain to enjoy. You may want to heat up your serving dishes in the oven to make sure your filet mignon stays warm while you are eating. Is someone late to dinner? Then keep the steak warm in the oven at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). This should keep your steak from growing cool without overcooking it.  

How to Serve Filet Mignon

  Now that you’ve chosen the best cut of meat you could find and followed these eight simple steps to prepare the perfect filet, you’ll want to make sure you serve it correctly too. This means pairing your meat with suitable sides and wine.   Filet mignon has a creamy, rich texture, and sautéed mushrooms can bring out that buttery texture while providing a few earthy overtones to the meal. Bacon-wrapped asparagus (or asparagus with melted parmesean) is also a popular side for filet mignon, especially if you’re looking for a green vegetable to round out the meal.   [caption id="attachment_1029" align="aligncenter" width="849"] filet mignon medium rare[/caption]   We’ve all heard the phrase “meat and potatoes,” and that’s because nothing goes better with a hunk of beef than a delicious spud-inspired dish. To satisfy your guest's carb cravings, consider either a traditional baked potato (stuffed with butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, and bacon, if desired), garlic mashed potatoes, or rosemary baked potatoes, any of which will be a great complement to a good cut of filet mignon.   What about wine? We all know that red wines pair best with red meat, but what sort of wine, specifically? Avoid fruity wines, which may overwhelm the taste of the steak. Try a Rioja or a well-balanced California Cabernet. The thick juiciness of a cab can complement the juiciness of a steak.   Once you’ve selected a vegetables, a carbohydrate, and a wine to complete your meal, you’ll want to think about dessert. With such a rich dinner, you might want a lighter finish. Consider a selection of fresh berries (blueberries and strawberries work well) topped with homemade whip cream or a refreshing sherbet (lemon, lime, and orange are especially popular choices).   The filet mignon is often called the “king of steaks,” and with the proper selection, preparation, and pairing, you’ll be sure to serve a meal fit for royalty! Just follow the eight easy steps outlined in this article, and you’ll have produced a perfect filet mignon in no time. And if you really want to eat the best filet mignon steak in Brooklyn, you should stop by Atlas Steakhouse
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