By Paul Yates
Filet Mignon (or fillet steak as it is called in English) is the most tender part of the beef animal and so requires some attention when it comes to cooking otherwise you can easily end up with a dry piece of meat and / or something that isn’t as tender as it should be.
It’s tender because the filet mignon is from the beef tenderloin, a little used muscle at the rear of the rib cage and it’s the fact that it is never put under great exertion that it remains so tender. For the same reason it has extremely little fat (if any at all) marbled into it and this also contributes to the tenderness. This particular cut of meat is also renowned for its price (and in my opinion) its lack of flavor.
I accept that this latter point is open to debate but whatever your opinion I do believe that it makes the cooking process all the more important to ensure that the texture is maintained and that the flavor is delivered to the maximum. In addition, it must not dry out.
Many people like to grill their steak and I am no exception so I’m going to start with this as method no.1, yes it’s quick and easy to do but it’s also easy to get wrong. To get the maximum flavor it is so important that your grill plates are super hot because by doing this your steak will quickly crisp on the outside (adding flavor) and seal the juices in so keeping your steak moist. Flip it once and only once, don’t press down on it because this will squeeze out the juices and season it after the cooking and not before. If seasoned (salted) before it will toughen the steak and also the salt will protect the steak from the heat – not what we want. Two minutes for each side of the steak will be perfect.
Method number two is also an extremely popular grilled filet mignon recipe and that is to cook it wrapped in bacon but the great challenge with doing this is get the bacon crispy on the outside without overcooking the steak and drying out the meat.
Essentially you spit roast the whole tenderloin after having wrapped it in streaky bacon (secured with cocktail sticks). The spit roasting over high heat takes about 10 minutes to crisp up the bacon and gently cook the outer area of the tenderloin and then the meat is removed from the spit rod and allowed to cool.
Once cool, the cocktail sticks are removed from the bacon (the bacon stays in situ because it has crisped up nicely) and the part cooked tenderloin is sliced thickly to produce the filet mignon steaks already wrapped in crispy bacon.
It’s then simply a matter of following the recipe above in terms of cooking hot and fast giving each side of the steak about 2 minutes and no more. Season and serve.