August 13th is National Filet Mignon Day.

The simplest way to garnish a steak is with a pat of butter, or a compound butter like blue cheese butter, garlic herb butter or truffle butter (photo #2).

While we’re fine with steak sauce with a sirloin steak, a tender, subtle cut like filet mignon benefits from a more complicated preparation like mustard sauce, red wine sauce (photo #3) or mushroom sauce (photo #4)?

Add Dijon mustard to taste for a Dijon sauce, add a bit of cream for a cream sauce.

We’ve even tried it with creamy parmesan sauce (our suggestion is to save this preparation for a less expensive cut, like sirloin).

But we actually like the “more is better” approach, and serve grilled filet mignon and other cuts of steak with three or four sauces (photo #5).

Different bites, different experiences.

Don’t want a sauce, per se? Use a topping:

  • Really plain: minced chives or parsley, cracked black pepper on the side
  • Caramelized onions
  • Fresh baby arugula or watercress

    The most tender cut of beef comes from the small end of the tenderloin, inside the rib cage of the steer. It accounts for less than 1% of the entire carcass (see the small red triangle on image #6).

    That’s why it’s so expensive.

    The tenderloin runs across the back of the steer. Because this area of the animal is not weight-bearing, the connective tissue is not toughened by exercise. This results in extremely tender meat.

    Filet mignon is lightly marbled and mild flavored compared to other cuts, and is best served rare to medium rare.

    Boneless, it is ideally 2-1/2 inches thick (although it is sliced thinner) and 1-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.

    The term “filet mignon” is a French term. The literal meaning is small, cute or dainty (mignon) boneless slice (filet).

    Chateaubriand is the center, thickest cut from the tenderloin, and a specific preparation.

    Filet mignon can also be served raw, as carpaccio.

    On restaurant menus it is called filet mignon, tournedos, medallions, filet de boeuf and tenderloin steak.

    But the term filet mignon is not used in France!

    It was invented in 1906 by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) in his book, The Four Million.

    Some Other Names For Filet Mignon

  • Argentina: bife de lomo
  • Australia, New Zealand: eye fillet
  • Brazil: filé mignon
  • Dutch: haasbiefstu, ossenhaas
  • English (U.S.): medallions, tenderloin steak
  • English (UK, Ireland): fillet steak
  • English (Australia, New Zealand): eye fillet
  • French: filet de boeuf, tournedos (the entire center-cut tenderloin is the dish known as Chateaubriand)
  • French (Québec): filet mignon
  • Ireland, South Africa: fillet steak
  • Italian: filetto
  • Norwegian: indrefilet
  • Portuguese: filé or filé mignon
  • Puerto Rico: filete miñón
  • Spanish: filete miñón or filet mignon
  • Swedish: oxfilé
    > Check Out The Different Cuts Of Beef In Our Beef Glossary


    [1] Filet mignon naked, waiting of a sauce or garnish (photo © Chianina Steakhouse | Long Beach).

    [2] Filet mignon with truffle butter (photo © Eddie Merlot’s).

    [3] Filet mignon in red wine sauce (photo © Palm Restaurant | New York City).

    [4] Make a mushroom sauce, or add mushrooms to the red wine sauce. Mushrooms and filet mignon are a perfect pairing (photo © Bagatelle Restaurant | New York City).

    [5] Fun food: a choice of sauces for dipping (photo © Fleming’s Steakhouse).


    [6] See the little red triangle? That’s the filet mignon (image © Joe Smack | Wikipedia).

    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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