Filet Mignon–the king of beef. The very thought of it can make your mouth water. No wonder this steak cut from beef tenderloin is one of the most popular items in steakhouses.
Filet mignon is a delicate and tender steak as it does not have much connective tissue. You must cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time; otherwise, it will lose its tenderness. Contrary to popular belief, cooking a filet on a charcoal grill is just as easy as cooking it on the stove and can give you even better results.
If you love the smokey flavor from the grill but are worried about ruining that special steak, then this guide is for you. We will cover everything from choosing the proper steak to little-known tips that can help you cook the filet to perfection!
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Let’s get started!
How to buy filet mignon
The taste of the steak depends on the quality. If you want a good steak, you should know how to buy one. These tips can help you:
- The USCA Grade: USCA has different ratings for the quality of filet mignons. The best steak is USCA Prime. Only 2% of the total cuts in the US make it to this grade. So, it is found only in high-end restaurants and specialty stores. It is also quite expensive.
The next grade is USCA Choice which is the steak found in most supermarkets. This has slightly less fat than Prime, which lessens the flavor. But, it is still the best choice if you want to cook steak at home.
Then comes USCA Select, but you shouldn’t really buy it. And a steak without a grade is a strict no-no.
- The Steak’s Age: Do not assume that older steaks are bad. A little aging for the steak is actually good as it makes the steak more flavorful due to water loss. But true aging is done only under sanitized conditions. If you find any discoloration or gray spots, it’s an indication that the steak is too old, and you shouldn’t buy it.
- Look For A Centre Cut: The beef tenderloin is a long muscle. But at the end, it is two muscles held together with connective tissue. The steaks cut from the ‘tail’ of the muscle will likely split apart when cooking. This makes it difficult to cook correctly and doesn’t look appealing either. Filet cut from the center is a whole portion of a single muscle. This will hold itself together when you cook it.
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How To Cook filet Mignon: Step-by-Step
Most people prefer their filet mignon to be cooked medium-rare. It enhances the taste by keeping a juicy, moist core and perfectly cooked surfaces. In this recipe, the steak will be done medium-rare. But if you like a different level of doneness, simply follow the temperature guide we have given later in this recipe.
- Filet mignon steak
- Olive oil
Note: Even though Prime and Choice filets vary a lot in taste, you can follow the same cooking method.
The essential thing is to get the meat to room temperature. Take the filet out of the refrigerator at least 2 hours before cooking. Once it is thawed, drizzle some olive oil and add some salt and pepper on both sides. Press the seasoning gently in the steak using your hands.
Remember, you should never put the steak directly from the refrigerator onto the grill. The cold temperature won’t let the steak cook evenly.
Prep The Grill
Filet should be cooked on a grill surface temperature of 450-500o Celsius. You can use a surface thermometer to check the temperature if you don’t know your grill well. Charcoal grills add a smokey flavor to your filets, making it a different experience.
Searing The Steak
When searing filet mignon, you should use high heat. Place the steak on the grill using a pair of tongs. The grill should be hot enough to make the juices sizzle as soon as you place them on the grill. To get the perfect flavor, cook the filet twice on each side. Every turn should be around two and a half minutes long. The total grilling time shouldn’t exceed twelve minutes.
Get The Perfect Sear Marks
Filet mignon usually sports the criss-cross diamond-shaped seer marks. It takes some practice to ace the pattern. To get the marks right, make sure to place the steak on a fully heated grill. The hot grill grate chars the beef giving it distinct marks. When flipping the filet, turn it around 90o to get the intersecting lines. Cook both sides for almost the same amount of time to get identical marks.
Beginners usually flip the steak too many times. The steak may taste good, but there will be too many lines on the surface that don’t look quite appealing. But again, perfect sear marks require only one thing–PRACTICE!
Check the Filet For Doneness
The taste and flavor of the steak all depend on how well it is cooked. Obviously, you can’t cut up the steak to check how much it is done. So how can you do it? Use a thermometer!
Now, you can easily tell when the crusts are done. But you will want the internal temperature to be a few degrees lower than the surface. To check this, use a cooking thermometer to carefully pierce the steak from the side at the end of the last two minutes of grilling.
Cooking by time is not recommended, especially for beginners. This is because the time varies depending on several factors like the thickness of the steak, the grill temperature, and the meat temperature.
You can refer to the table below to know the temperature and average cooking time for different levels of doneness.
|Doneness||Description||Total Cooking Time||Internal Temperature|
|Rare||Soft with red centre||8 minutes||115oC|
|Medium Rare||Firmer with warm red centre||10 minutes||125oC|
|Medium||Pink and firm||12 minutes||130oC|
|Well Done||Firm and grey-brown throughout||14 minutes||140oC|
When the meat reaches the required internal temperature, remove it from the grill immediately to avoid overcooking. The temperature continues to rise 2 to 4 degrees even after it has been off the grill. This has been kept in mind while giving the internal temperature in the table above.
Some people do not like the idea of piercing a good piece of steak with a thermometer because the juices can escape. Piercing can only remove a tiny amount of liquid, but this is the best way to check your steak for a beginner.
Once you get the hang of it and know your grill well, you can start using a cooking timer.
Rest the Filets
As you know, even after taking the filets off the grill, they continue to cook. That’s why they need to be rested for about ten minutes before you can serve them. Many people take off the steak after the internal temperature is 130oC. This makes the steak temperature go even higher once you take it off the heat. The result? An overcooked steak!
It is always good to remove the steak from the grill a few degrees below the recommended temperature or simply follow the table above.
Enjoy Your Perfectly Cooked Filet Mignon
If you cut up the steak, you can see a juicy pink core and a brown crust (medium-rare).
What You Should Remember
- Thaw the meat and cook it only after it reaches room temperature.
- Season the meat well before cooking.
- Keep the grill on high heat and flip the filet only twice to get perfect sear marks.
- Check the internal temperature using an instant-read thermometer and remove the steak at the temperature given above.
- Rest your steak for ten minutes and allow the juices to find their way back to the core.
- Steaks continue to cook for some time, even after removing them from the grill. Remember this to avoid overcooking the steak.
Some Tips For A Good Steak
- Use filets that are about two inches thick. They cook better on a grill.
- To avoid the filets sticking to the grill racks, spray the rack with some olive oil before cooking.
- If you want to use the sauce on your filet, you can add it as the filet’s rest.
- If you want to make a bacon-wrapped filet or marinate the filet with red wine, go ahead. They taste equally good on a charcoal grill as they do in an oven.
Grilling a filet does not need to be complicated. With the proper technique and a little bit of practice, you can master the art of making a filet mignon. Cooking a steak is all about how well you know your grill and how well you know your steak!
Now that you have learned everything about cooking on the grill, show off your culinary skills by plating the perfect filet mignon!