by David Olson0
10 Steps to Perfect Pan-seared Filet Mignon
First referenced in 1906’s “The Four Million,” by O. Henry, the “dainty fillet” was a main course employed throughout the novel underscoring moments of romance between two lovers. Now, more than a hundred years later, fillet de bouef is still found at the center of our most intimate evenings – whether it be Valentines seated in the finest of dining establishments or a rustic date night for 2 over the flames of a backyard barbeque.
The smallest end portion of a cattle’s psoas major muscle (an elongated, non-weight bearing muscle located near the spine) represents what we recognize as the most succulent & intimidating cut of beef known to man.
Although incredibly tender, Filets contain incrementally less intramuscular fat as compared to other popular cuts such as, the strip or ribeye steak – but, when cooked appropriately can be sliced with a dull butter knife. To compensate for this absence of fat marbling the steak is liberally seasoned, often wrapped in bacon, gently prepared to medium-rare via one of several dry, high heat cooking methods, & plated with a simple glaze or sauce.
In this post I’ll offer general best practices & outline an underleveraged cooking method in preparing the most incredible, mouth-watering filet mignon.
Pan Seared Filet Mignon:
1. To deliver an incredible end product, it’s critical to start with a phenomenal cut of beef. Choose your beef from a trusted source. Always. Considering you’ve arrived at Omaha Steaks’ SteakBytes – Step one complete!
2. Choose from one of 3 metal sources for your 12” skillet or fry pan: Cast iron, copper core, or carbon steel. Each will facilitate the incredibly high temperatures necessary for searing a steak, but note: Cast iron will smoke & requires regular seasoning care, copper core is a nightmare to keep clean & the cost of a well-crafted carbon steel pan can range above $200. Pick your poison.
3. Cold steaks are tough steaks. 30 minutes – 1 hour in advance of cooking the filet: Remove from refrigerated container, rinse in water, pat entirely dry with paper towel, brush with canola oil, season with fresh ground peppercorn, wrap in plastic & rest at room temperature.
4. Dry steaks are flavorless steaks – No matter degree of seasoning. 5 minutes prior to cooking, season liberally with kosher salt. But, do not add salt before, as the salting in advance can break down proteins & will draw out moisture from inside the steak.
5. Never cook on a cold surface. Never heat your meat & cooking surface simultaneously. With the oven set to 400 °F, preheat the pan for 15 minutes. Expect a touch of smoke, particularly if using cast iron. But, the intent is to super heat your cooking source, providing the surface to deliver a 5-star restaurant-quality sear upon your steaks.
6. Aromatics. Place your pre-heated pan over the range top. Turn to high heat. Pour in a few tablespoons of canola oil (be sure it has a high smoke point, or else you’ll need a fire extinguisher) & heated, add whole sprigs of rosemary, sliced shallot & few cloves of chopped garlic, sautéing for 3-5 minutes.
7. Gently lay the seasoned filet mignon in the searing hot pan. Baste intermittently with the oil-butter. Cook the steak 3 minutes per side, encrusting the exterior of the steak. Only flip the steak once – let the pan & aromatics do their duty!
8. After searing, place skillet in the preheated oven at 400 °F. Over top of steak, spoon an additional nob of butter. Every 60-90 seconds, baste the steak in the butter until 5 °F below desired internal temperature. Remove from oven.
9. Beef steak should be plated at the following internal temperatures: Med-Rare: 130-135 °F. Medium: 140-145 °F. Med-Well: 150-155 °F. Well:+160 °F.
10. Place on a cutting board & tent with tin foil. Rest the steak 5 minutes per inch of thickness or 10 minutes per pound, whichever is greater – Allowing the internal fibers to relax, juices to redistribute & the meat to reabsorb all of it’s juices.
Season additionally to taste & serve!
Below is a video from Omaha Steaks Executive Chef Karl Marsh that teaches you an additional Filet-cooking technique known as sear-roasting.