The filet mignon. The most tender cut of beef you can possibly find. This cut of beef is famously known for its extremely soft and tender texture, as well as it’s high price point. This combination of texture and price-point makes it among one of the most sought-after steaks in a fine-dining setting, and deserving of the title “King of Steaks”
So what makes this special cut of beef so darn tasty and tender?. The normal 6-8 oz filet mignon you usually see at a restaurant is cut from the beef tenderloin (usually in the middle section, known as the chateaubriand). This tenderloin is a small portion of meat that runs through the sirloin and short loin of the cow. The location of this muscle is key to its tenderness, as it is a non-weight bearing muscle (which means it doesn’t really get that much exercise). Due to its inactivity, the tenderloin doesn’t develop tough connective tissues that you would get with more chewy, active cuts of meat (if you can, try imagining Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bicep during his weight-lifting days. The tenderloin is the exact opposite of that).
However, despite its tender texture, filet mignon has a relatively low amount of intramuscular fat. This lack of fattiness would actually drive some steak connoisseurs away from the filet mignon (who instead would opt for something with more natural fattiness/marbling, such as the ribeye). Because of the lack of flavorful fattiness, you often see filet mignon being served with sauces (such as demi-glace, au jus, mushroom sauce, etc.) in order to make up for lack of natural flavor inside the filet. This combination of sauce with the natural tenderness of the steak makes for an extremely tasty combination that has no comparison.
So why do nice things have to be so expensive? In this case, the beef tenderloin makes up an extremely small portion of a cow (each full tenderloin is only about 4-5 lbs of a whole 2,000 lb cow); so supply is quite limited per cow. If you think about that along with its popularity, you won’t need a Ph.D in Economics to understand the supply-and-demand economics of this cut of meat and why it’s so expensive to get at a restaurant.
Fortunately, you can save a pretty penny by learning how to cook this steak at home! Now that you know a little more about the King of Steaks, let’s show you how to cook it right!
The original bone marrow butter and cured egg yolk recipe was from Guga and his Sous Vide Everything Youtube Channel. I mentioned earlier in this blog that filet mignon is often paired with a special sauce to amplify flavor. This bone marrow butter was an excellent alternative and adds an amazingly irreplaceable, savory, and buttery umami flavor.
-Filet Mignon (6-8 oz steak)
Bone Marrow Butter
–1.5 lbs of bone marrow (approx 1 femur bone cut in half length-wise; yields about 3-4 Tbsp of extractable marrow)
-1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
-1 cured egg yolk (from extra large egg)
-1 tsp parsley, chopped
-Water (for salt-water bath)
-Salt (for salt-water bath)
-Weber Kettle Grill
-Lump Charcoal (I used Kingsford)
-Oven with Broiler
Bone Marrow Butter Preparation
1) Add water into a container large enough to submerge the bone marrow
2) Add approx 2 Tbsp of salt
3) Place bone marrow in the salt water and leave covered in the fridge overnight up to three days. This process will extract blood from the bone marrow and concentrate flavor)
4) After 1-3 days overnight, remove the bone marrow from the salt-water bath and dry with a paper towel. Place bone marrow on a sheet pan that has high heat tolerance.
5) Turn on broiler in your oven on to 550°F. Place bones in and allow to broil for 8-10 minutes
6) Remove bones from the broiler/oven. Scrape off all the extractable roasted bone marrow and add to a food processor along with unsalted butter, parsley, and shredded cured egg yolk.
7) Blend the mixture until homogeneous.
8) Scoop out the bone marrow butter into a plastic wrap and wrap into a cylindrical tube. Place the bone marrow butter in the fridge for at least two hours to solidify.
Filet Mignon Grilling (Sear-First; see Observations for Reverse-Sear Instructions)
1) At least two hours in advance (preferably overnight); season your filet mignon on each side generously with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Light up your charcoals and configure your charcoals to a two-zone configuration
2) Sear each side of your filet mignon on direct heat for approx 30 seconds per side.
3) Transfer the filet to indirect heat. If you have one, place a temperature probe into the thickest part of the meat to monitor temperature. Close the lid of the grill.
4) Cook the filets until it reaches the desired level of doneness:
a) 120°F for rare (residual heat will bring it up to ~ 125°F after taking off heat)
b) 130°F for medium rare (residual heat will bring it up to ~ 135°F after taking off heat)
c) 140°F for medium (residual heat will bring it up to ~ 145°F after taking off heat)
d) 150°F for medium well (residual heat will bring it up to 155°F after taking off heat
5) After removing from heat, put a slice of bone marrow butter on top and allow the meat to rest for ten minutes while the butter melts on top.
6) If desired, use a zester to shave a cured egg yolk on top and serve.
-The bone marrow should turn to a more white-ish color after being submerged in the salt bath overnight. This color change is due to blood being extracted out of the bone marrow into the water bath. What you’re left with is a much more concentrated umami bone marrow flavor
-I normally perform a reverse sear for my steaks, but I was curious to see the difference between a sear-first vs reverse sear in this particular cook. From what I have seen, sear-first gives you a deeper grill mark and darker crust. I also noticed sear-first brought the meat to target temperature faster than a reverse-sear, allowing for faster cook times
-The reverse-sear, in contrast, takes longer to cook, but has lighter color and “crustier” crust. This crispier crust is due to additional surface moisture being evaporated off the steak due to its exposure to indirect heat first. Overall, both methods will give you an absolutely amazing steak, and it’s a matter of personal preference.
–To reverse sear, cook your steak first on indirect heat to about 10°F below the desired done-ness level; then sear on direct heat afterwards for 30 seconds each side.