When you know how to grill filet mignon properly you may never buy a different steak. We know that some people have a fear of grilling this particular cut of beef, this fear of ruining an expensive filet mignon will keep people from even attempting to cook it. Honestly because they are typically cut thick it is one of the simplest steaks to grill right every time. If cut to thin filet is possibly the toughest cut of steak to cook, due to the lack of flavor and moister adding fat, this simple grilling technique should minimize your fears while maximizing the flavor.
Filet Mignon is best when it is cooked rare to medium rare. If you prefer a well or medium well done steak you should probably avoid this cut of beef. It will dry out and become tough if over cooked.
When selecting your filet mignon remember thicker is better. There is less of a chance of over grilling them if they are large. Smaller steaks cook faster and have less margin for error. Also look for some marbling, while the tenderloin is a very lean cut but it is possible to find some with a little fat in them.
Prepare your steak as you normally would, I like to dust them with a salt and pepper. Then allow it to sit out for an hour, you do not want to cook the meat right out of the refrigerator.
While the meat is sitting out pre-heat your grill, you want to get it ready to sear, so get it good and hot. TIP: If your grill does not get hot enough to get a good sear, place a tin foil pie tin upside-down over the area you are going to place the meat on while the grill pre-heats. This will get that area of the grates up to 200 degrees hotter than normal.
Now that we are ready to sear, keep the grill on high, quickly lift the lid and place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill and close the lid. Wait about 2 minutes and rotate the steak ¼ of a turn, after 2 more minutes turn steak and repeat. Tip: If your filet is sticking it is not ready to be rotated yet. It will release from the grates when the grill marks are properly burnt in.
The next step: if you are working with large steaks you want to sear the sides to, you will need to stand the steaks on the sides, you may need to prop them up against each other in an upside-down v shape. Do this for about 2 minutes on two of the sides.
Then remove the steaks from the heat, (I move them to the upper racks, however just moving them off of the direct heat is just as effective) and check the temperature of the meat. At this point, depending on the thickness of the meat, they are probably close to rare; we move them to indirect heat to minimize the chance of over cooking.
Monitor the temperature as needed: the closer they are to the desired temperature the more frequently they should be checked. Pull the meat off of the grill 5 to 10 degrees before the desired temperature is reached and tent with tinfoil. Let sit for at least 4 minutes before serving.
If seared properly even well done filets will retain their juices and show some pink inside.
Attempting to cook this cut of steak rapidly over direct high heat can be done by experienced cooks, this method is meant to minimize over cooking.
About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.
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