Ask a cook: What’s a true beef filet?

  • Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 5:32 p.m.

Q: What is the description for a beef filet? I recently bought some filets and when I got home I had to trim quite a lot of fat and silver skin from them. Is this normal?

A: A true filet is a boneless cut from the front end of the beef tenderloin. It’s very low in fat, which is why filet mignon is traditionally wrapped with a strip of bacon, and it is known for its tenderness.

So my first question is about all that fat you had to trim off. A true filet has marbling – wavy lines of fat distributed throughout the muscle – but it shouldn’t have a rim of fat you could cut away.

The second question is whether it was tender. If it wasn’t, I’d suspect you were sold a chunk tender, sometimes called fake filet.

It has marbling, but it also has more connective tissue, so it’s tougher than a true filet. It should be cheaper, too. A good filet costs more because it’s worth more.

— By Kathleen Purvis. Email her at

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