How-To

How To Cook the Perfect Filet Mignon

If you equate filet mignon with fancy, it’s probably because it’s something you order at a celebratory dinner in a steakhouse or buy once a year for Valentine’s Day. This small, extremely tender steak comes with a high price tag, so if you’re cooking it at home, you want to make sure it’s perfect when it’s time to eat.

Here’s our foolproof method for making a crusty-on-the-outside, fork-tender-on-the-inside steak that’s finished with a garlic butter to melt and pool around it all.

What Cut of Steak Is Filet Mignon?

Filet mignon are steaks cut from the smaller end of the tenderloin, and while it’s the most tender part of the animal, it’s also one of the smallest, thus the hefty price tag. Filet mignon is free of any tough muscle, but it’s also lean and doesn’t have much fat. This means that it cooks extremely quickly, but can just as easily overcook and become dry and tough. Our technique ensures your pricey steak is cooked just the way you want it to be.

What’s the Best Way to Cook Filet Mignon?

The answer for perfectly cooked filet mignon lies in a process called the reverse sear. Pioneered by J. Kenji López-Alt when he was at Cook’s Illustrated, this method is the opposite of how steaks are traditionally cooked. Instead of searing over high heat and then finishing the cooking in the oven — which results in a gray band of meat around a pink center — the steaks are slowly and evenly cooked in a low-temperature oven until they are about fifteen degrees from your desired doneness.

To finish cooking and get that tasty browned crust on the outside, the steaks are quickly seared in a super-hot pan, which also gives them the complex flavors and textures you crave. You’re left with a perfectly medium-rare filet mignon that’s beautifully burnished on the outside but evenly pink on the inside.

I tweaked Lopez-Alt’s method a little bit to ensure consistent results and a tasty crust. Setting the oven at 275ºF slowly cooks the steaks evenly but fairly quickly — about 20 minutes. For searing, a little extra oil and about a minute on each side produced a tasty dark-brown crust. Make sure you have an accurate thermometer, which is key to this cooking method. You’ll use it to check the internal temperature of the steak to know when to take it out of the oven.

How Do I Serve Filet Mignon?

Reverse-seared filet mignon is tender, juicy, and delicious, but it never hurts to gild the lily. While the steak’s in the oven, make a simple garlic butter by mashing some garlic, parsley, butter, and salt together. Dollop this onto the just-seared steaks and watch magic happen as the butter melts and mingles with the meat, letting you dip each bite of steak into buttery heaven.

Filet Mignon

Ingredients

  • 4

    (1 1/2-inch thick) filet mignon steaks (about 6 ounces each)

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 teaspoon

    minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

Equipment

Rimmed baking sheet

Wire rack

Aluminum foil

Chef’s knife

Cutting board

Measuring spoons

Tongs

Small bowl

Large frying pan, preferably cast iron

Instant-read thermometer

Paper towels

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 275°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 275°F. Fit a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Dry and season the steaks. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Season all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and pepper, then place on the wire rack.

  3. Slow roast. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a steak registers about 115°F for medium rare, 20 to 30 minutes (start checking at 20 minutes). If you’d like the steak more rare or more well-cooked, add or subtract 10 degrees for each level of doneness. Meanwhile, make the garlic butter.

  4. Make the garlic butter. Place the butter, parsley, garlic, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and smash with the back of a fork until well combined.

  5. Heat the pan for searing. When the steaks are about 5 degrees from the desired temperature, heat the oil in a large frying pan, preferably cast-iron, over high heat until just starting to smoke.

  6. Sear the steaks. Add the steaks and sear until a dark golden-brown crust forms, about 1 minute per side. Using tongs, turn the steaks onto their sides and hold them there to also sear the edges, rotating them until all the edges are browned.

  7. Serve the steaks with the garlic butter. Transfer the steaks to serving plates. Divide the garlic butter over the steaks and let sit until mostly melted, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The garlic butter can be made and refrigerated up to 5 days ahead. Let sit at room temperature while cooking the filet mignon.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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