Last week was a fun one to be a caterer in the Augusta area. The Masters always finds me cooking for corporate clients and the menus are always fabulous! One night we had filet mignon on the menu. It had been a little while since I’d last prepared it, so I did a little searching to refresh my memory and found a great resource for all things meat – www.howtocookmeat.com.
The stated goal of the website is not to be a recipe database, but rather to give you a guide for cooking meat without relying solely on a recipe. There are 15 different categories ranging from beef and bison to duck and lobster. There are recipes but more importantly there are really good explanations of what to do with each particular type of meat. Check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did.
In English, filet mignon translates to “dainty fillet” or in layman’s terms “one fabulous little steak.” Often wrapped in bacon, the steak is cut from the tenderloin which is the small piece of meat on either side of the spine near the rear of the animal.
Because the muscle carries no weight and doesn’t do much of anything, it has very little connective tissue and is very tender. It is also very lean and overcooking will cause it to become tough and dry. Wrapping the filet in bacon not only imparts a great smoky flavor but also helps to keep it moist while cooking.
While the thought of preparing filet mignon at home may be daunting for the novice, it is actually a very easy thing to cook. Just follow these directions from www.howtocookmeat and you will be impressing friends and family with your culinary skill.
Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
This is the recipe I followed when preparing filet mignon for my Masters clients this year. It received many compliments – the recipe works.
1. Look over your meat for any silver skin or fat that was left around the outside of the steaks. Use a sharp knife to remove it without removing any meat. If you purchased the whole tenderloin, the filet mignon is the smaller- middle end of the tenderloin. Cut your steaks the width of bacon and trim them. You will want to season the meat before you wrap it with bacon. Just keep it simple and use sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper.
2. With the steaks seasoned and ready to go, the next step is to wrap them with the bacon. Choose a fresh, quality bacon that is wide enough to cover the entire width of the steak. One piece of bacon will be enough per steak. Just wrap it around firmly with out pulling it tight, just snug. Stick a toothpick through the overlapping portion to keep the bacon in place.
3. Heat a frying pan up to medium on the stove while heating the oven up to 400 degrees F. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan and stir it around until the foam subsides. Once this happens, lay a couple filets in the pan. Try to have twice as much pan as meat. This will give you a hot spot to flip the meat to. Fry the steaks until they are brown to dark brown. (Mine took 2-3 minutes per side.) Flip them over to the unused portion of the pan and repeat. Once the first two steaks are done, remove them to a plate and cook the rest of the steaks.
4) Once all the steaks are done, turn the heat off on the pan and return all the steaks to it. You will finish your steaks in the oven. To cook your steaks to the way you like them, use a thermometer to check them before they go in and then in 2-3 minute intervals as they cook in the 400 F oven. Rare meat is 120-125 degrees, medium is 140-150 degrees, and well done is not allowed. Before serving the steaks, remember to let them rest for a 5-10 minutes loosely covered with aluminum foil.
Karen Tempel, an aspiring chef since she could reach the countertops, has been delighting friends and family with tempting treats for most of her life. She is the owner of Everyday Gourmet, a custom caterer in the Aiken area. Visit her website at www.LetKarenCook.com or email her at Karen@LetKarenCook.com.
More on filet mignon
In America we associate filet mignon with beef but in France it more often refers to pork.The tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef and arguably the most desirable so therefore also the most expensive cut.The average steer provides no more than 4 to 6 pounds of tenderloin.Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue, which makes it tender.August 13: American National Filet Mignon Day (definitely marking my calendar for that one!)