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When a friend shared with me how to cook filet mignon at home, I didn’t believe her at first that it could be that easy. After all, a good filet is one of the most expensive dishes you can get at a restaurant – and one of my favorites. Then I heard it from a couple more people that it’s quick and simple to do. I knew I had to try a pan seared filet mignon recipe for myself!
My love for filet mignon started several years ago. The Twin Cities have a wonderful event a few times a year, called Restaurant Week. For a whole week, participating high-end restaurants all offer three-course meals for only $30! My first really good pan seared filet mignon was at The Capital Grille during restaurant week. We still enjoy it a few times a year, almost always during restaurant week because it’s more affordable.
Then, in 2014, we took a weekend trip to Chicago. And, it’s no secret that Chicago has some of the best steakhouses in the country. I knew we had to splurge and try one of the best ones! Our experience turned out to be quite a story…
My Memorable Filet Mignon Story
I haven’t talked about travel very much yet on Wholesome Yum, so you may not know that it’s one of my favorite things in the world to do. Like, traveling and my kids are the two things that I live for! We try to go on at least three trips each year – one sight seeing trip (usually to Europe), one beach vacation, and one weekend getaway.
For any trip beyond a beach vacation, I’m a serious planner, you guys! I always want us to have the absolute best of the best experience – see the best sights, stay in the best location (but in an affordable hotel!), and of course, eat the best food!! I like to build a very detailed itinerary to make sure that we fit everything in, and admittedly planning it is almost half the fun. (Almost! ;)) I think I have to start sharing our adventures next time we travel! Sadly, it probably won’t be until next year, since our second baby is only two months old at this point.
Anyway, in Chicago, the best food definitely had to include the best filet mignon. My research showed that several places tied for the best steak in Chicago. Even though I was booking over a month in advance, some of them were already full.
I made at a reservation at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, which was well rated and had lovely views on the river. I even read that high-profile celebrities, like Beyonce, have been spotted there! (Just to be clear, this post is not sponsored by The Capital Grille or Chicago Cut Steakhouse. They don’t even know I exist. I just love a good steak!)
When my husband and I got to the steakhouse, we were seated by the window with a view, which I’d requested. After we ordered, the owner (!!) of the restaurant came over and asked us if we would be willing to switch tables. He said that some VIP guests were unexpectedly coming, and for our trouble he would pay for our entire meal and bring us a bottle of champagne. This was saying a lot, because the prices there are not cheap. (It was going to be a major splurge for us, but I usually make one special exception for a nice place when on vacation.)
Having such an expensive meal entirely paid for was way too good a deal to pass up, so we agreed. We were even more surprised when the owner came back with an aged bottle of Cristal champagne! That alone was worth hundreds of dollars!
As we enjoyed our meal (and the filet mignon was ah-mazing and cooked to perfection!), we were incredibly curious to see who the VIP guests would be. Unbelievably, they never showed up! The waiters took our table and put it together with several others, but by the time our meal was over, they had taken it all apart. Ha.
Needless to say, we were more than glad to switch tables in exchange for a free steak dinner and expensive champagne. The only downside was, I was pregnant with our first child at the time, so sadly we couldn’t open the bottle. We left it sealed and brought it home with us. The funny thing is, we still haven’t opened it! We would have never bought something like that ourselves, so are saving it for an extra special occasion.
How To Cook The Best Filet Mignon at Home
Having tried some pretty amazing steakhouses, I wanted to make sure to get the filet mignon recipe I’m sharing just right. Use the following tips, and you’ll have the best filet mignon every time:
1. Choose Quality Beef Tenderloin
As it turns out, by far the most important thing to get right is getting a fresh and high quality cut of meat. You want it to be thick and bright red, with minimal marbling. Two inches thick is great! A butcher is your best bet for getting an excellent cut, but Whole Foods and Costco also have decent options.
There’s no doubt that beef tenderloin is expensive, but when you compare it to restaurant prices, it’s actually quite reasonable. Where I live, the price ends up in the realm of $10-$15 for a large filet mignon, versus $50 or more at a high-end steakhouse. If you think about it, you can enjoy an amazing filet mignon at home for the price of a burger at a cheap sit-down place!
2. Trim the Edges
Beef tenderloin is naturally lean, but it often comes with a layer of connective tissue along the edges. Make sure to cut this off for the best texture.
3. Season Liberally
Don’t be afraid to season your steak liberally with salt and pepper! No other seasonings are necessary, though garlic powder and dried herbs can be added. Really, the quality meat is the star. That being said, I didn’t add enough salt the first couple of times (not good!) and it had a big impact. You need more salt than you probably think, so keep that in mind.
4. Use High Heat
High heat is absolutely critical to getting a good sear on your steak. The best way to do this is in a pan that heats up to a very high temperature, so put away that non-stick cookware. What you need is a cast-iron pan like this one. It makes an enormous difference! Plus, it allows you to finish the filet mignon in the oven after pan searing, which is an important step.
5. Time It Right
After your filet mignon gets a nice sear on the stove, finish it in the oven to achieve the right level doneness. Everyone’s preferences are different, but I highly recommend cooking it medium rare, or at least no more than medium. This is a very lean cut of meat, so it will be dry if you overcook it.
Use a meat thermometer to test the filet mignon for doneness. Do not cut it open to check! The following is a guide for the temperature that the steak should be when you take it out of the oven:
- Rare – 125°F (~5 minutes for a 2″ thick steak)
- Medium Rare – 130°F (~6 minutes for a 2″ thick steak)
- Medium – 140°F (~7 minutes for a 2″ thick steak)
- Medium Well – 155°F (~8 minutes for a 2″ thick steak)
The meat temperature will rise another five degrees as it rests (see #6 below).
6. Let It Rest
You may be impatient to cut into your steak immediately after cooking, but don’t do it! All the juices will spill out onto the plate and you’ll end up with a dry steak. Instead, letting the steak rest for a few minutes will let the juices re-absorb into the meat, leaving you with the juicy filet mignon that you want.
7. Keep It Simple
A good filet mignon recipe means that the steak stands out on its own! You really don’t need to douse it in steak sauce or anything. I love it with fresh garlic herb butter, as in the recipe below. Sometimes people add a crust or make it Oscar style with crab meat. More often than not, you’ll find that simple is best if the beef tenderloin is seasoned and cooked well.
That’s it! Are you ready to make the best filet mignon at home?
Best Filet Mignon Recipe with Garlic Herb Butter (Beef Tenderloin):
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Want more low carb, gluten-free dinners for special occasions? Try these: