Filet mignon is a prime and tender cut of beef. It’s also correspondingly expensive.
Widely considered the king of steaks for its melt-in-the-mouth texture, you’ll be able to slice through a prime filet with nothing more than a fork.
Now, you might think filet mignon is expensive if you associate it with being the costliest cut on most restaurant menus. When you’re making filet at home, though, it’s much more cost-effective, especially if you invest in a whole tenderloin.
Filet mignon has a French name. Filet means thread or strip, while mignon is French for small and pretty.
A prized cut, filet mignon comes from the center of the tenderloin. This area of the cow is known as the short loin, and it’s found inside the cow’s rib cage.
The muscle this steak is sourced from doesn’t bear any weight, so this means the connective tissue is not overworked and toughened as a result. Instead, you’ll get a deliciously tender meat.
This muscle is called the psoas major. Each cow has two tenderloins, one found on either side of its rib cage.
A filet mignon steak is cut from the middle of the tenderloin, then, somewhere between the tail (the pointed tip near the cow’s shoulder) and the Chateaubriand (a thick steak at the rear).
The filet mignon is also included as a medallion on T-bone steaks and Porterhouse steaks.
Filet mignon steaks commonly available are sliced 1 to 2 inches thick and up to 3 inches in diameter. An authentic filet mignon, though, is no more than 1 inch in diameter, and it’s taken from the tapered end right next to the tail. You’ll find these steaks are rounded due to being sourced from the tubular end of the muscle.
You typically trim away the fat from a filet mignon steak, although it will impart more flavor if you resist the temptation to trim.
Fortunately, cooking filet mignon on the grill is super-simple. Some people insist on using a stove top to oven method for a filet mignon, but nothing rivals breaking out the charcoal grill.
I. How Long Does it Take to Grill Filet Mignon?
The most important thing to avoid is overcooking your filet mignon. Even a minute or two on a scorching grill can make a huge difference to the end result on your plate.
As a rough guideline, shoot for five minutes per side when you’re grilling filets. Use a medium-high heat and this timeline will generate a medium-rare filet mignon that needn’t cost the earth.
If you want to step up the doneness level, add one minute per side for each level – more on that below.
II. What Temperature Do You Need to Cook Filet Mignon on the Grill?
You should use a medium-high heat when you’re grilling filet mignon.
Shoot for a surface temperature of at least 450F, but not more than 500F. Cook your steaks using direct heat.
You’ll need to master your grill’s temperatures, but this temperature range usually correlates to 75% of full power. Invest in a thermometer to get quick and accurate results, while eliminating the guesswork from proceedings.
With most charcoal grills, you’ll need to tweak the venting when you’re cooking filet mignon.
Now, while the above guideline of 10 minutes all-in for medium rare is accurate, it’s also just a guideline. You should not cook by time alone, since your end goal is your desired internal temperature minus several degrees. This shortfall allows for the steak to continue cooking as it leaves the grill.
So, with the grill temperature, the temperature of the steak when slung on the grill, and the thickness of the steak all impacting cooking, you really do need a thermometer and to break the habit of relying on time alone when you’re grilling steaks. It might initially seem like one extra thing to worry about, and you may even view this as a needless step, but the opposite is true. Getting yourself a precise thermometer and moving away from cooking steal purely based on time will elevate your cooking to the next level.
After you remove your filet mignon from the heat, its internal temperature will rise up to 4F more. With thinner filets, they will rise a further 2F.
Here is a snapshot of the different steak doneness levels, as well as the times and temperatures you need to achieve them:
Grilling a well-done filet mignon
160F or above for 4 minutes per side.
Grilling a medium-well filet mignon
145F to 150F for 8 minutes per side.
Grilling a medium filet mignon
135F to 140F for 6 to 7 minutes per side.
Grilling a medium-rare filet mignon
125F to 130F for 5 minutes per side.
Grilling a rare filet mignon
120F to 125F for 4 minutes per side.
III. How to Season Filet Mignon
Now you can see how it easy it to rustle up this prime cut of steak at home on the grill, how should you go about seasoning filet mignon?
Luckily, that’s just as straightforward.
You can get away with just a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.
Always exercise a light touch when you’re seasoning steak. You can always add more.
You also need to consider the timing of seasoning. Unless you’re salting meat at least an hour before cooking it, don’t salt it until a few minutes before sliding it until the grill. In between those times, it will end up sucking moisture out of the meat rather than allowing it to reabsorb back into the meat.
When it comes to serving filet mignon, use some classic English mustard. Red wine sauces and mushroom sauces also work especially well with this cut of steak. Check out our guide to drying mushrooms at home so you always have some on hand.
IV. Some Parting Advice on Grilling Filet Mignon
Always start with the best quality steaks you can find. Look for premium filet mignon sliced 1.25 to 1.5 inches thick, weighing from 6oz to 8oz each.
Always allow your steaks to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This will raise the temperature of your steaks, making it much easier to hit your preferred internal temperature.
When you’re aiming for a rare filet mignon, this can be difficult to achieve. Be prepared to experiment and to fully master your grill and pack plenty of patience. You might not get it right first time, but you’ll soon be whipping up rare filet mignon like a pro.
We very much hope today’s guide has shown you how to cook filet mignon on the grill with ease. You don’t need to be a pitmaster to pull this off, and you don’t need to rule out this cut of steak either, even if you don’t fancy paying restaurant prices for it.
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