How to grill filet mignon

How to Grill Filet Mignon Handsome cuts of Filet Mignon. Good color; well-marbleized.

Handsome cuts of Filet Mignon. Good color; well-marbleized.

Filet mignon even sounds intimidating. However, grilling this tender cut of meat does not have to make anyone nervous. It’s actually a pretty simple process. The one key to remember throughout the entire process is that less is more—less preparation, less interference, less stress, and more enjoyment of a steak that will literally melt in your mouth.

To prepare the steak you will only need some simple spices. For lean meat, or if the fat has been removed from the outer edges of the filet, you may want to wrap a strip of bacon around it to keep the juices in. Then, rub fresh ground pepper over the filet for the perfect marinade by itself, and only add kosher salt to the meat after searing it on the grill. After all, the last thing you want is a dry filet mignon. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, any steak rub or traditional marinade will suffice for flavor. Either way, let your filet mignon sit for thirty to forty-five minutes before placing it on the grill. This will allow the meat to reach room temperature as well as to facilitate in the absorption of the spices.

While you are waiting for your filet to reach room temperature, preheat your grill. For a gas grill, a medium-high setting is best for searing, and it should take 15-20 minutes to preheat. For a charcoal grill, the coals should be evenly distributed and you will know it is ready when the coals are red-hot and covered with white ash. Proceed by placing the filet on the grill with tongs. It is important to never pierce the meat, as the juices will drain out. Always use tongs when turning the steak. Once the steaks have been seared for 3 minutes on each side, cook them for an addition 1-6 minutes on each side by indirect heat, depending on preference and thickness of the steak. For a gas grill, turn the middle burner off, and for a charcoal grill, move the majority of the charcoal to one side and cook on the other. For both grills, cook with the lid down.

Once your filets have been grilled to your liking, remove them from the grill. If you are unsure whether your meat is cooked correctly, you may test the doneness by pushing on the steak. A rare steak will leave an indention of your finger on the surface. A medium steak will give a little, but not leave an indention. You may also use a digital or instant-read meat thermometer. For medium, cook to 145F (63C); for rare, cook to 130F (54C). When removing the filets from the grill, it is best to place them on warm plates. Always allow filet mignon to sit for five minutes before serving to ensure that the flavors have time to settle, and then you may slice the meat and serve as desired.

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Grilling filet mignon obviously does not have to cause anxiety in anyone. The important things to remember are to allow your meat to reach room temperature, to never pierce a filet, and to allow the juices to recollect after cooking the steak. That way, you can savor each and every mouth-watering, melt in your mouth bite.

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Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 fresh-squeezed lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. low-fat Blue cheese, crumbled

Whisk together marinade ingredients in baking dish. Add steaks, turn to coat, cover, and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk all dressing ingredients together in small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat grill to high. Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Season both sides with pepper and grill to medium-rare. Remove from grill, let rest 5 minutes and slice into 1/4” thick.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with half of the dressing and season with pepper. Transfer to 4 salad plates and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Serves: 4

Getting the Most out of Your Beef Tenderloin

When shopping for a tenderloin, look for a Peeled Side Meat On cut (PSMO, or a whole, untrimmed tenderloin) often found in many discount club stores. A PSMO beef tenderloin is vacuum-packed and much cheaper per pound than the pre-butchered plastic-wrapped cuts in your grocer’s freezer. (In some cases as little as 1/3 the price.)

Portions from a butchered beef tenderloin

How to Butcher a Whole Beef Tenderloin

There is a bit of extra prep work required when starting with the whole tenderloin, but a little investment of time pays off with significant savings, plus you’ll have plenty of meat for several meals.

➤ Important: Use a sharp boning knife for this process, and be careful.

Cleaning 

  • Trim away fat and connective tissue from both top and bottom to expose the muscle.

Trimming a whole beef tenderloin

  • Once the fat and connective tissue are trimmed away, the tenderloin’s side muscle will be exposed. This side muscle is often referred to as the “chain.” Cut the side muscle away completely and set aside.

Cutting away chain muscle from a beef tenderloin

  • Peel away the silverskin. The silverskin is a layer of connective tissue (elastin, not collagen) covering the muscle that will not dissolve during cooking. Slide your sharp knife just under the silverskin and slice it away along the length of the tenderloin.

Portioning

  • Clean the fat and silverskin off the chain muscle.
    • The chain meat is great for beef stroganoff, Philly cheesesteaks, or grind it for burgers.
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Separating side muscle roast on beef tenderloin

  • Cut off the tail end (4–5 inches [10–13 cm.]). This is often sold as the “tenderloin tip”.
    • Use the tenderloin tip in pasta, grilled kebabs, or even beef carpaccio.

Slicing Chateaubriand and tail off of a whole beef tenderloin.

  • The head can be cut into two separate pieces (chateaubriand and petite roast) portioned into steaks, or tied and prepared as a roast.
  • The narrow end of the heart can be sliced into 6 oz. (170 grams) steaks. Cut the steaks 2 to 2-1/2″ (5 to 6-1/3 cm.) thick on the tapered end.

Slicing beef tenderloin into filet mignon steaks

  • Cut 8 oz. (227 grams) portions from the center of the tenderloin. Cut 2 to 2-1/4″ (5 to 5-3/4 cm.) steaks for 8 oz. (227 grams) portions.

Set aside your steaks for the following recipe. Wrap, label, and freeze the rest of the tenderloin cuts for later use.

Value: Cost Analysis

Compare these numbers to an average of about $30 per pound for pre-portioned filet mignon steaks. That’s a final cost of about $8-10 per steak. That savings adds up quickly when you’ve been able to cut several steaks!

  • AP Cost—This is the As Purchased cost, or the cost per pound when purchased from the store. Our tenderloin (USDA Choice Grade) broke down like this:
    • Cost per Pound: $10.69 ($23.57 per kg.) (or .67¢ per ounce [.23¢ per gram])
    • Total Weight: 7.21 lbs. (3.27 kg.)
    • AP Cost: $77.07

➤ Waste After trimming the meat we had 2 lbs. of waste. This waste needs to be accounted for in adjusting the original cost per pound.

  • EP Cost—The Edible Portion cost after trimming all waste.
    • Original Cost/EP Weight=New Cost per Pound
    • EP Cost: 77.07/5.21= $14.79 per lb. ($32.66 per kg.)

➤ New Cost To figure out the cost of each steak, divide the new cost per pound by 16 (16 oz. in a pound)

  • Price per Ounce: 14.79/16= .92¢ per ounce (.03¢ per gram)
  • Cost per Portion: 6 oz. (170 gram) steak: $5.55, 8 oz. (227 gram) steak= $7.36

*Note: AP and EP are restaurant terms used by professionals in calculating food cost. 

If both steaks are 8 oz. (227 grams), the bottom line cost for both is only $14.72—far less expensive than filet mignon at a restaurant! And when you’re using a Thermapen® Mk4 to verify doneness you know it’s going to be cooked to perfection.

Reverse-Seared Grilled Filet Mignon for Two

Filet mignon steaks on a grill. Reverse searing a steak is a great way to maximize edge-to-edge pink perfection with a dark and flavorful crust. In the two-stage cooking process, the meat’s fine protein fibers are slowly heated in a low-temperature oven before being seared on a ripping-hot grill. The finished steaks have a flavorful crust with tender, succulent meat from edge to edge.

Ingredients

  • 2 6–8 oz. (170–227 grams) filet mignon steaks
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper

Equipment

  • DOT® alarm thermometer
  • Pro-Series® Waterproof Needle Probe
  • Thermapen Mk4

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 275°F (135°C).

Seasoning filet mignon steaks

  • Sprinkle both sides of each steak with salt and pepper. Place the steaks onto a wire cooling rack set over a parchment or foil-lined sheet pan. Place the Pro-Series needle probe of your DOT into the thermal center of one of the steaks.
  • Set your DOT’s high alarm to 90°F (32°C).
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Cooking temperature of filet mignon steaks.

  • Place the steaks into the oven and cook until they reach an internal temperature of 90–95°F (32–35°C). This will take about 10–20 minutes.
  • While the steaks are warming in the oven, fire up your grill.
  • When your DOT‘s high alarm sounds, verify the steaks’ internal temperature with a Thermapen Mk4 and remove from the oven.

*Note: Due to the high temperatures of a grill’s surface (500–700°F [260–371°C]), we do not recommend using leave-in probe thermometers when grilling. Spot-checking food temperatures with an instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen Mk4 is always best for grilling. Read our post The Difference Between Grilling and BBQ for more information on grilling temperatures. 

Searing on the Grill

You can also sear your steaks in a cast iron pan. Add about 1 tablespoon (14-3/4 ml.) of oil to the pan and heat to about 500°F (260°C), and sear as described below.

  • Lightly oil the grill rods and place the steaks on the grill. Cook about 3–5 minutes per side to develop a brown, flavorful crust.

Grilling reverse seared filet mignon steaks. Doneness temperature.

  • Spot-check the steaks’ internal temperature frequently with a Thermapen Mk4. For medium-rare doneness, pull from the grill once the internal temperature reaches 125°F (52°C).
    • A pull temperature of 125°F (52°C) will allow for a final resting temperature of about 130°F (54°C)—medium rare doneness.

➤ On Resting Meat

Grilled Filet Mignon steaks resting. When meat protein is cooked it denatures and coagulates. This is what causes the meat fibers to become firm and to shrink, expelling juices. Given a chance to rest, meat can actually reverse some of that process.

…the coagulation process is apparently at least partly reversible, so as you allow the meat to rest and return to a lower temperature after cooking, some of the liquid is reabsorbed by the protein molecules as their capacity to hold moisture increases. …which in turn makes for much juicier and more tender meat. —Master of the Grill, America’s Test Kitchen

  • Allow the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes. These steaks are delicious enough simply to be served alone, but a pan sauce or a bit of compound butter are nice accompaniments.

Preparing your own meat and grilling with precision tools make a special occasion meal a memorable one. Cooking meat to temperature really is the secret to preparing restaurant-quality steak every time. Once you try these tips at home, your new favorite steakhouse may be your own kitchen!

Products Used:

thermapen_mk4_rd_d_aThermapen Mk4 dot_black_d_iDOT pro_series_new_mini_needle_probe_z_aPro-Series Waterproof Needle Probe

Resources:

The Science of Good Cooking, Cook’s Illustrated

How to Trim a Whole Beef Tenderloin for Roasting, Serious Eats

Filet Mignon on a Budget: How to Cut a Tenderloin Roast into Steaks, Snake River Farms

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