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You have reservations for one of the fanciest restaurants in town. White linen tablecloths, fine china and crystal glasses adorn the table. Your waiter has just lifted that iconic silver dome off of your gourmet steak dinner. We’re willing to bet that if asked what type of imaginary steak you are about to cut into, chances are you’d say it was a juicy, tender grilled filet mignon.
Amazed on how well we know your tastes? Turns out we aren’t actually mind readers at all. The filet mignon steak (pronounced “flayminyon steak”) has long been considered the crème de la crème of luxury beef. With its fork-tender iconic appeal, it’s easy to see why this particular cut can top the lists for both price and popularity. But just what is filet mignon and how can you go about preparing it at home to impress your family and friends? Never Fear! Steak University has the answer to all of your juiciest filet mignon questions.
What is Filet Mignon
At Steak University we are all about educating you in the art of steak. Before we delve into the why’s and how’s, let’s talk about what. In the U.S., Filet Mignon refers to a cut of beef taken from the tenderloin of the cow. In order to understand why this type of steak is so tender and juicy, we need a quick anatomy lesson.
The tenderloin runs along either side of the mid-upper back portion of the cow. This isn’t exactly a high impact exercise area for the animal, which means the tenderloin muscles don’t see a lot of exertion, which can strengthen or toughen the tissue. This lack of heavy muscle straining is what makes the filet a particularly tender steak.
Steak U Tips: While filet mignon is extremely tender, the lean nature of the tenderloin can remove some of the flavor that is usually derived from fat or marbling in other cuts. Consider a sauce or infused butter (see recipes below) to increase your flavor impact.
The slender, and relatively small, tenderloin muscles run along either side of the back and are often removed in long, snake like cuts. These tenderloins are then sliced along the short-dimension to create your gourmet steaks. Only slices from the narrow front portion are technically filet mignon, although some companies will try to pass off any tenderloin cut under the name.