Filet mignon is famous for its delicate, tender texture and infamous for its often exorbitant prices. Cut from the tenderloin, filet mignon is lean and generally runs between 1 to 2 inches thick. Since the filet mignon has a lighter beef flavor than heartier cuts like a T-bone or rib-eye steak, it is best enjoyed with a flavorful sauce.
The tender meat of a filet mignon can be complimented by the rich, decadent flavor of compound butter, which simply refers to plain old butter that is mixed with herbs, oils, or seasonings to give it a unique flavor. To make compound butter, bring a stick of unsalted butter to room temperature. Mix in a bit of chopped basil for an earthy tone, or opt for some chopped parsley if you want a lighter flavor. You could also whip room temperature butter with a bit of salt, olive oil, and lemon zest for a tart and surprising taste. When you've mixed the butter with new, exciting flavors, scoop it onto a piece of waxed paper, wrap it up, and pop it in the fridge for at least two hours. Unwrap it and slice into small pieces when you're ready to serve your filet mignon, and place a piece of the chilled compound butter atop the hot steak for a unique, flavorful accompaniment.
Though it has a light flavor on its own, filet mignon is strong enough to support a wide array of sauces. A lighter sauce might consist of nothing more than melted butter and fresh herbs, but the steak can handle even the thickest, creamiest accompaniments. Try a smooth mushroom gravy or some whiskey barbecue sauce for a unique twist, or top your filet with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil for a simple dressing. If you have pasta sauce in the fridge, filets will also support a strong marinara sauce or a thick Parmesan Alfredo.
Just as filet mignon supports a variety of sauces, so too can it be a canvas for heartier creations. If you'd like to add a vegetable atop your steak, try sauteing some sliced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, then add a 1 to 3 ratio of balsamic vinegar and hearty red wine and cook until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup. Broccoli or cauliflower roasted with cloves of garlic also make a flavorful topping. To add a bit of crunch and texture, set thin strips of fried onions on top of a filet.
If you're craving an over-the-top experience, you can supplement a filet mignon with even more decadent meat and seafood. Top a filet with lump of crabmeat tossed with browned butter for a rich meal, or serve the filet alongside a buttery tail of lobster and a wedge of lemon. For a smoky version of a traditional steak, try wrapping the filet with strips of bacon before cooking.
- How to Cook Everything; Mark Bittman
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