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Don’t save this recipe just for special occasions, a perfect filet mignon is easy enough to cook on a weeknight.
What is filet mignon?
Filet mignon is such a beautiful cut of meat. Because of where this muscle lies on the cow, just under the backbone, it doesn’t get worked much, which is why it’s such a tender cut of beef.
You will find the steaks in your grocery store or local butcher cut into thick circular steaks that are about three inches in diameter and 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick.
When buying beef, the meat will be graded as USDA select, choice or prime. Select will have the least amount of marbling while prime will have the most richness and marbling. Because of that prime generally costs more.
You will also find steaks produced from different breeds, such as black angus cattle, like Certified Angus Beef, or Snake River Farms, which is American Wagyu beef. Both of which are high quality and delicious.
Filet mignon vs. beef tenderloin
Filet mignon steaks are cut from the whole beef tenderloin, which is a long, thin muscle. Because it’s not perfectly cylindrical, you’ll find filet mignon steaks won’t always be uniform.
Some may be more circular while others will be more oblong. The oblong steaks are often called tenderloin steaks.
Beef tenderloin is a subprimal cut located in the loin primal along the back of the cow. From the beef tenderloin, butchers will cut filet mignon steaks, chateaubriand and tenderloin steaks.
Filet mignon and tenderloin steaks can be grilled up in less than 10 minutes. You can also grill or smoke a full beef tenderloin or chateaubriand, but they can take up to an hour to cook, depending on your grill temperature and whether you’re using direct or indirect heat.
Filet mignon vs ribeye
While filet mignon comes from the loin primal of the cow, ribeye comes from the rib primal, which is located closer to the front of the cow.
Like filet mignon, ribeye is also cut from a subprimal, which is broken down into steaks. Here’s my tutorial on How to Trim a Prime Rib to Make Ribeye Cap and Ribeye Filet Steaks.
Ribeyes are loved by many because they have a higher fat content, which makes them extra delicious. But people love filet mignon because it’s leaner steak that is still amazingly tender.
A 3-ounce filet mignon only has 7 grams of fat. If you trim all of the fat from a ribeye, the same portion size has around 10 grams of fat. But that’s not really an accurate comparison, because many people leave the fat on the ribeye, and they also tend to eat an entire ribeye steak, which can weigh around 16 ounces (1 pound).
Filet mignon vs porterhouse
The filet mignon is actually part of a Porterhouse Steak. A porterhouse is cut from the loin primal and includes both the tenderloin subprimal and the strip loin subprimal.
Porterhouse steaks include a bone shaped like a T, but they’re more than a T-bone steak, because they are required to include a portion of the tenderloin that is at least 1.25 inches wide or more.
What is peppercorn sauce?
Peppercorn sauce, also called au poivre (in French) is a creamy sauce spiked with brandy or cognac. It’s a fabulous filet mignon sauce, because the steak is naturally lower in fat, so it marries well with the luxurious, rich sauce.
As the name implies, it starts with whole peppercorns. You can grind some with a pepper grinder, but it’s a lot quicker to place them in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin or heavy can.
Substitutions: You may want to try my Steak Rub instead of just salt and pepper.
Peppercorn sauce ingredients
How to grill filet mignon
Because this meat is so succulent, I like it cooked rare to medium rare. At this temp, it melts in your mouth like butter. But I recognize that some people just can’t do pink meat, which is why the below recipe can be adapted for all meat lovers. All you have to do is add a little more grilling time.
You can cook these delicious steaks on any type of grill, including a gas grill, charcoal grill or Ninja grill.
- STEP ONE: Season steaks about 30 minutes before you’re going to put them on the grill and leave them on the counter. This allows them to lose the chill from the fridge, so they cook more evenly. I don’t measure here. Just sprinkle until they have a dusting on all sides.
PRO TIP: Filet mignon’s are usually 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. If they’re too cold, the outer edges will cook too quickly compared to the center, which is why I let them rest at room temperature after seasoning them.
- STEP TWO: Heat your gas grill or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Place the steaks on the grill over direct heat. Grill for 4 minutes. While the steak cooks, you can also start the peppercorn sauce.
I love grilling filet mignon on the sear station on my Aspire gas grill. It can get up to 1,000F degrees. I set it for medium-high and place the steaks on after it has heated up for a good 15 minutes. The ceramic plates create a crust that is just divine, especially with the coarse black pepper.
- STEP THREE: After 4 minutes, flip the steaks over and grill for another 3-6 minutes, depending on your desired temperature.
PRO TIP: The best way to know if your steak has reached your desired doneness is to use a digital meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of your steak. Pierce the probe into the side of the steak like shown in the picture. This will give you the most accurate reading. I pull my steak at about 127F for rare to medium rare. Keep in mind it will rise a few degrees as it rests on the counter.
How to make peppercorn sauce
- STEP ONE: Start the sauce by toasting the freshly crushed peppercorns in a dry sauce pot over medium-high heat. You can do this on the grill or over a burner. Toasting them will bring out their essential oils.
- STEP TWO: Next, add the butter and sauté some diced shallots, until they’re tender. Carefully, pour in the beef broth and brandy.
- STEP THREE: Bring everything to a rapid boil for about 7 minutes. This allows the sauce to reduce, so it will thicken.
- STEP FOUR: When you add the cream, it too will boil. You need to stir it as it cooks, so it doesn’t form a skin on top. After about 5 minutes, it will thicken and coat the back of a spoon.
- STEP FIVE: Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in two tablespoons of butter. Oh it’s so heavenly. I could almost drink this stuff.
PRO TIP: You can make the sauce in advance and keep it over low heat on the stove. Just be sure to stir it occasionally or it will form a skin. No big deal though. You can whisk it away.
How to serve grilled filet mignon with peppercorn sauce
After the steaks have rested for a few minutes, spoon some of the sauce right over the steaks and enjoy.
I like to serve filet mignon steaks with a robust red wine roasted potatoes and fresh arugula tossed in oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
If you have any leftovers from this filet mignon recipe, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can save the steak and sauce together or store them separately. I prefer keeping them separate when possible.
How to reheat filet mignon
Reheat the steaks in the microwave, but keep in mind that the microwave will cook the meat, so it will end up being more well done. If you want to keep the steaks medium rare, slice them and eat the pieces cold with warm sauce. Cold steak makes a great snack.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s not an exact formula for this, but I can give you some tried and true pointers. Bottom line is that the cooking time is going to depend on the steak thickness, how cold it is when you put it on the grill, how hot your grill is and how done you like it cooked.
Fortunately, we can control all of those things.
For a 1 1/2-2-inch thick steak that’s been sitting on the counter for about 30 minutes, it will take about 4 minutes per side over medium-high heat to reach rare to medium rare. Add another minute per side to reach medium, and another minute per side for medium well. And just keep going for well done.
A 3-ounce portion of filet mignon has around 26 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat. It’s also rich in iron, zinc and Vitamin B12
Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Then, heat the skillet to high heat, add a little bit of oil to the pan and sear the steaks on both sides for 3-4 minutes. Because the steak is so thick, you’ll also want to turn the steaks on their sides for 30-60 seconds to get a great sear on the edges, as well.
While peppercorn sauce is a classic, you can also serve filet mignon steaks with herb butter, Ancho Garlic Compound Butter or creamy horseradish sauce. I make my horseradish sauce by combining 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayo and 1-2 tablespoons of fresh jarred horseradish.
I love burgers as much as the next person, but there are three reasons you should grill steak this weekend >>>
More steak recipes
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Grilled Filet Mignon with Peppercorn Sauce
- 2 filet mignon steaks
- kosher salt
- coarse ground black pepper
Peppercorn Sauce (au Poivre)
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 3 tbsp butter, divided
- 2 tbsp shallots, minced
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/3 cup brandy or cognac
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Grilled Filet Mignon
- Season the steaks on all sides with salt and pepper. Leave them on a pan on the counter while you heat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Place the steaks on the grill and cook for 4 minutes.
- Start making the peppercorn sauce. (see below)
- Flip the steaks. For medium rare steaks continue cooking for 3-4 minutes to an internal temperature of 127F.
- Remove them from the grill, and let them rest on a pan covered loosely with foil while you finish the sauce.
- Serve with a generous spoonful of peppercorn sauce.
Peppercorn Sauce (au Poivre)
- Place the peppercorns in a baggie and crush with a rolling pin.
- Place a saucepot over medium-high heat.
- Add the peppercorns, and toast them for 1 minute.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter and let it melt.
- Saute the shallots for 1 minute.
- Carefully, pour in the beef broth and cognac. Bring it to a boil and cook for 7 minutes.
- Add the cream, and continue cooking stirring constantly until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in two tablespoons butter.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.