A fillet steak is commonly referred to as a fillet mignon, beef medallions, or tenderloin steak in many parts of the world. This cut is taken from the small end of the tenderloin of a steer. As one of the most expensive cuts, it is extremely tender yet can lack flavour with improper cooking. With the right cooking technique, you can make a fillet steak that rivals those served in steakhouses.
Beef tenderloin steak is usual name for this cut, which comes from the back rib cage. This is an area that is not exercised, so the meat's connective tissue is not tough. However, the lack of fat and bone means the meat is less flavourful. The USDA grading services are paid for by the beef industry to ensure one uniform way to grade quality. Their grades are based on marbling and age. Marbling is the amount of fat that runs through the meat. The younger the age, the higher the grade of meat. The best cuts are graded prime, then comes choice, and next is select. Choose beef that is red, but not a bright red. Don't buy meat past its date, grey in colour, or has water moisture droplets in the packaging. Most prime grades are sold to restaurants, so choose choice cuts.
Because of the lack of fat in the fillet steak, quick dry cooking is best. Dry cooking is grilling, baking, and saut�ing. Wet cooking includes braising or using a dutch oven. Allow steak to rest for 30 minutes before cooking. Rub a generous amount of salt around the steak to hold in moisture but not enough to dry out the meat. Lay two tbsp of peppercorns on a chopping board. Wrap the bottom of a cast iron pan with plastic wrap and hit the peppercorns and press the fillets into the peppercorns. Heat one tbsp of butter with one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the fillets when the oil starts to smoke. Cook four minutes on each sides for a medium rare steak. Cook for five minutes on each side for a medium steak. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Adding the Fat
Even with a perfectly cooked fillet, you still might be missing some delicious fat. Many chefs wrap steaks with bacon prior to cooking. You can make a simple herb butter by mixing one stick of butter with a tsp of parsley, thyme, and chives. Add to the top when serving. Or, before serving, remove the juices and oils from the pan, but do not clean the pan. Turn the heat to moderately high and pour in 1/3 cup of Cognac. Light it with a long match and allow flames to burn out. Pour in one cup of heavy cream and reduce. With tongs, place the fillets in the sauce and serve. For a sweet addition, melt a half stick of butter and add four tbsp chutney and five tbsp cream. Cook down and serve over fillets.