Quite literally ‘Filet Mignon’ means a thick slice that is dainty. In French, filet means thick slice and mignon means dainty. What exactly is Filet Mignon and what is so special about how best it can be cooked? Filet Mignon is a boneless, tenderloin meat that comes from the back rib cage of the cow and is quite tender, unlike other steaks. Since this part does not bear the weight of the animal and does not get exercised, it remains tender. It is that meat that comes furthest both from the horn and the hoof of the animal. Thus there is no scope for the meat in this part to get hardened and tough like any other steak does. It’s probably the tender quality of this meat that has earned it the name mignon or dainty.
Filet mignon is available in slices that are 1-2 inches thick. Unlike other meats, it requires very little or rather gentle cooking as it is dry meat and contains very little marbling fat.
How to Choose and Cook Filet Mignon
Look for slices that are a lighter red as compared to the darker ones. The lighter color is indicative of more marbling, which can lend tenderness to the meat when cooked. The tenderness of the meat also indicates that it should not be cooked beyond a point. Overcooking can result in its getting dry and losing its tenderness.
Best cooking methods for filet mignon are roasting, broiling, grilling and pan-frying.
It also tastes good when used as stuffing in savory pastry.
Never cut the meat to test whether it is done, as this will result in a loss of tenderness. Some gentle pressing is all that is called for, to know if it is done. If there is a mushy softness on touching, it is rare. If it is soft, feels resilient and does not leave an imprint when pressed, it is done medium-rare. This is the right tenderness. If it is firm, it is overdone. See that you do not reach this stage.
Since filet mignon contains no marbling or fat tissue, barding is one way of cooking it. Barding means wrapping the meat with a thin slice of bacon or fat before cooking. Filet mignon is often wrapped in a layer of bacon that is held together by a toothpick and then cooked. This ensures that the fat from the bacon adds flavor to the filet keeping it succulent and tender and preventing it from drying during cooking.
A traditional method is to briefly use intense heat to sear it a bit on both sides, then lower the heat and cook till done medium rare.
Some people like the filet well-done and often ask for a “butterflied’ filet. This suggests that it is cut down in the center, so that more of it is exposed to heat during cooking.
If you prefer to roast, ensure that the smaller end is tucked up and fastened by tying or trimming.
Sauces that go with Filet Mignon
Filet mignon is mildly flavored and is preferably eaten with sauces or along with a dip. Choice of sauce will vary from person to person depending on what suits his palate. Some like it with a marinade that will lend flavor while cooking. Others prefer a steak sauce. Both taste equally good. The following sauces can be tried:
Black cherry and toasted walnut sauce. Check out the recipe at
Merlot sauce (For recipe visit:
Garlic Mustard Sauce (See recipe at following link)
You can also check out this site for other Filet Mignon recipes
Wines that combine well with Filet Mignon
This will depend on whether the sauce selected has a strong flavor, stronger than the filet. Dry red wines like Merlot go well with filet mignon. If you prefer a sweeter wine like White Zinfandel, then you may not want much pepper in the filet mignon. A rich Chardonnay will go well with filet mignon and will tickle the palates of those who prefer a white wine to a red one.
Filet Mignon is a great delicacy and makes a delectable steak that tastes best when cooked medium rare and served with the right wine!