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Cooking Filet Mignon

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi, my name is Chris, I am new to the forum, and have a question on how to cook a Filet Mignon.

I have a 12oz 2 1/2 to 3 inch thick USDA Prime Dry Aged Filet Mignon. I will be cooking this on a charcoal grill. I have never used the indirect heat method to cook before and know that I will have to use it on a piece of meat this thick. I am really unsure on how long to cook this as I am wanting this to be Meduim Rare. I know I will need to get a good sear on both sides of the steak to lock in the flavor until I push the coals to one side of the grill to use the indirect heat to slowly cook the center.

I would use a meat thermometer on this but seeing in all that would pierce the meat resulting in a loss of flavor I do not want to go that route. I know that pro chefs use there index finger to press on the meat to tell when it is done to there desired taste, but I tend to have a hard time judging this. Usually when I attempt to do this I end up undercooking the meat after I cut into it of course or I end up over cooking it. Any advice on how I could perfect this technique?

I plan on seasoning this with ground pepper, kosher salt, montreal steak seasoning spicy and some extra virgin olive oil, then let it sit for half an hour on the table to get to room temperature before putting it on the grill.

Any advice would be most appreciated,

Thanks,

-Chris-
post #2 of 25
Bonjour....

There are many methods of checking if your filet is cooked.....you will get responses for this with the "finger test" or "touch method".

Season your meat.

Please realize that the preparation leading upto grilling and then the rest after grilling takes longer than the actual grilling of the meat.

For medium-rare filet mignon , cook 6 minutes per side over high heat. (abit longer in your case because of size)

My rule generally speaking (others may vary)

When it feels hard or firm when you touch the meat, too done.

If it is soft when you touch it and your finger leaves an imprint, it is rare.

If when you touch the meat , its still soft but leaves no imprint then its medium-rare.

I hope someone corrects me if I am off here, your opinion ?

Merci,

Petals
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
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post #3 of 25
You're going to get lots of good responses here but here's an important thing to know... cooking a steak is a simple process that goes wrong very easily. It's not just about learning the how-to's, it's about doing it many times in order to get acquainted with our sixth chef's sense "cooking by feel." So although you may get excellent recommendations in the end you'll have to incorporate your intuition, otherwise it won't work.

I agree that sticking a thermometer in a succulent small piece of meat is not a good idea, a roast yea, but a steak no. I also agree that you sear both sides and then move to a cooler part of the grill to coast into medium rare. I use the touch method and always remember that it's like pressing into different parts of your face:

Cheek - rare
Chin - medium rare
Forehead - well done.

And remember to always let the steak rest covered for at least five minutes.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 25
I've never had the chance to cook a dry aged PRIME tenderloin, you lucky dog!:thumb:

Just some ideas:
Put your coals only on one 1/2, don't spread out then move.
Sear'n doesn't lock in juice, just carmelizes the sugars
Touch your thumb and index finger together lightly, feel the "meat" of your thumb=rare...to your pinky is well done.
You can always put the steak back on the grill to cook more.
Don't over spice, simple is good for this cut
Throw in some mesquite/pecan/hickory chips for a hint of flavor?
Buy a cheaper similar cut to practice.

KISS, you've got a nice piece of meat that needs little help.

If you don't take pix, I will hunt you down!:thumb:

Good luck!
post #5 of 25
Hard would be burnt. Other than that, you're spot on. The best way I'e ever heard it explained is based on parts of your face.

Clench your teeth with your lips closed.
Cheek(next to lips)= Rare
Squeeze you chin=Medium
Tip of the nose=Well

Also, a good meat thermometer should have a probe narrow enough to not do any damage to the meat. When the thermometer says 130 F take it off and let it rest. It will continue to cook to about 135(slightly cool mid-rare) and all is right with the world. Also, take readings from the side to the center, not from the top.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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post #6 of 25
Ahh rats...the others beat me to the face test for feel of doneness.

I'll add just 1 tip....others will prob disagree :) I only cook at home too...I oil/spice it/ pepper before cooking, then salt after it's browned, reason being, to me, the juices seem to get drawn out by the salt too much if you salt when raw. If I'm wrong so be it :) It's what I always do, I want the juices in the meat, not in the coals.

Hope it goes well- come back and let us know. Sounds great.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #7 of 25
Fillets are difficult for many to judge with the finger test. The texture on a fillet is completely different than other steaks. As you learn to judge temperatures on a fillet with out a thermometer you will be paying as much attention to the flesh structure on the side of the fillet as it cooks.
I suggest you use a thermometer and follow Chef Ray's advice on probing in the side.
Do not forget that residual heat will continue to cook your steak as it rests.
If you are going to cook on charcoal make sure your coals are as hot as possible and the grate is as close to the coals as possible to get a good sear and a char crust before you move to move to the cooler side.
I would use a few wood chips and season with S&P. I might use a thin layer of oil but that would depend on how hot your grill gets. A prime steak should have plenty of fat and I do not want any other seasonings competing with that dry aged flavor.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #8 of 25
To get the center to med-rare, would it be better to cut it in 1/2? 2.5-3" would be good for rare, but that thick would be hard to get to med-rare w/out the outside too over done.

To set the steak out to get to room temp may keep it in the danger zone too long?

I don't know, just some ideas. I've never cooked a 2.5-3" t-loin steak. Prime and dry aged, dang I'm jealous!:lips:
post #9 of 25
There are to many factors to give a time per side on a BBQ. The heat in every BBQ is different. there is only one way and thats to feel the meat. The more you cook on the grill the better you get. ..........I also use the Montreal steak seasoning, I put a small amount in a zip lock bag and use a rolling pin and roll to make it a finer ground. I find it to be a bit to heavy ground.....................Good luck ................Bill
post #10 of 25
I don't know how much experience you have. A 12 ounce filet is very big. most average 5 to 8 ounce tops. I would not go by touch as by the time you feel resistance(to firm) in the meat it will be well done. Use a thermometer its more acurate then the touch method.Once its overcooked, YOU CAN"T FIX IT> Dont worry about one little whole in it , you are serving it right away anyway. At $1.25 to $1.40 per ounce you cant afford errors.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #11 of 25
I salt before searing, but do it at the last minute before getting it on the heat. If you take it out of the fridge, salt it and let it temper for a while, that's different.

And solid hunks of beef can be left out at room temp for some time, hour or so, I would guess. Any bad stuff that starts to grow will only be on the outside and gets killed by the searing. Now ground meat, on the other hand...

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #12 of 25
Aha....thanks Teamfat... I oil and pepper as soon as its out of fridge, but now I'll salt too just before cooking, after getting it up to temp.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #13 of 25
You've got two issues. One, how to cook the meat. Two, how to read the temperature.

You've initially decided to sear the meat, then finish it "over" indirect heat. Good idea! Build a hot fire on one side of your grill, close the cover, adjust the vents, and take the temperature of the indirect side, near where the meat will cook.

When you build the fire, and push it to one side, set a disposable aluminum pan with high sides next to the fire to shield the indirect side from the fire.

There are plenty of ways of taking the temperature of the indirect area -- the worst way is a door thermometer, or one mounted on top of your barbecue. In fact, on all but the very best pits, those aren't thermometers so much as cruel jokes. More about thermometers later.

All of the advice given on how to calibrate your touch to take thermometer is good as far as it goes. To this let me add that you have to use a soft touch, or you'll feel your own effort instead of the meat's response. Let me further add that perfectly cooked fish and meat all have the same "affect." That is, when the meat just starts to push back it's perfectly cooked. I'd give you more advice on how to do this, but it's a waste of time for this project.

You can't read the temp on a thick piece of meat with a press test, no matter how good you are. Once you're over about 1-3/4" you have to use a thermometer.

There are two types of good thermometers for this project. One is a thin-probe, instant read. Either digital or analog. Digitals are better, because they read faster. Buy at least one, and use it (them) in good health. You can't leave an instant read in the meat, you have to probe when you think it's done. Even if the meat is too rare, one probe should be enough to tell you how long you have to go.

The second type is the type you leave in the meat while it cooks. It doesn't matter if the probe is thick or thin, since it stays with the meat. I suggest an electronic theater with a probe on a lead, and an exterior digital read out -- so you don't have to open your pit every time you want to know the temperature.

There is one reasonably priced thermometer which combines cook chamber and meat internal temperature functions, and has a radio remote with a 60' range as well. That's the Maverick RediChek ET-73. (Around $40 everywhere on line, but Amazon where they're $50.) Only this company, only this model. If you're going to use your barbecue for indirect cooking more than a couple of times a year, you're a fool not to buy one ASAP.

There's a right way to cook a large tenderloin steak like yours. First, forget steak and think roast. That accomplished, trim your steak, truss it, rub it with olive oil, then season it.

If you want to know how to make a steak rub, ask. For what it's worth, a "Montreal" style rub goes on before cooking, not only to season but to help form a "bark" (aka crust). If you want to pass the bottle at service, that's your business.

If you want to know how to make a similar, but better beef rub -- ask. It's easy.

Prepare a fire in your grill. If it's a gas grill, use one burner on one side. Leave the other burners off. If it's a charcoal grill, use the method I already described, with a pan separating the coals from the indirect side. Hardwood lump charcoal is almost always better than lump. Any starter other than liquid fire starter is better.

Set up the thermometer for the indirect side of the grill as close as possible to where the meat will cook, but as far away as possible from the fire.

If it's a gas burner, close the grill and let it come to temp -- about ten minutes. If it's a charcoal burner, leave the grill open and let the fire mature a little. Again, about ten minutes.

Open the grill, and sear off your filet on four sides -- giving each side about two minutes. It's important to keep the lid on during the searing, and to get it back on as soon as possible when you do have to remove it to turn the meant.

When the meat is seared, insert the thermometer probe (if using), and set it on the indirect side of the grill. Close the hood.

After ten minutes check the internal temperature, if it is not yet at 125 - 130F, rotate the meat so it cooks evenly.

Continue to cook until the meat reaches temp. 125F is appropriate for the coasts, 130F is medium rare in the middle of the country.

Wrap the meat in aluminum foil or professional type cling wrap (the super market stuff might melt). Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes -- give or take very little.

Unwrap, remove the trussing string, and carve. You may carve straight up or down or on the bias.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #14 of 25
All good advice, a couple thoughts, first I would not use a spice blend on a dry aged prime piece of meat.You want to enjoy the intense beefy, rich flavor. Don't mask it. Also, do not salt until your going to fire the filet, this will prevent leaching. Also, after the filet's rests if you decide to slice it, invest in some Fleur de sel and sprinkle a bit over the slices.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #15 of 25
Chris, I found this vid. Hope it helps. Bacon wrap is very common.

YouTube - BBQMyWay's Channel
post #16 of 25
With all due respect that's simply not accurate.
There is no need to truss a 12 ounce dry aged fillet and I sincerely hope there is no trimming involved on a cut prime dry aged steak. No need to make things overly complex.
I don't know about any one else but I want a char crust on my steak and bark on my BBQ that I have cooked low and slow. The two are not the same. I suppose you could have a fun debate about that on a Pittsburgh rare but other than that I don't want any bark on my steak except for the whining from the neighborhood dogs that can't stand it because it smells sooooo good while cooking.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #17 of 25
How are you serving the steak Chris? How many people are you serving? Is it part of a bigger meat thing? Is this an important meal for you to show your skills?

AS Koukouvagia says, there is a skill one learns through experience. Your sixth sense will tell you.

If it's important, Is this really the time to be experimenting with a prime, expensive, piece of beef you've never cooked before?

We can all tell you how a filet mignon should be cooked, but before a show, or an exam, or an important meal, we all practice... I know a fillet mignon is an expensive way to practice, but ...
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #18 of 25
There are a lot of different "right" ways to sear then roast a fillet. And when you get down to including all the nuances there are more than a few "best" ways. The following is offered woth with due respect to the referenced posters:

While you may prefer simple salt and pepper, the OP has a preference which (s)he is free to indulge. In the opinion of many a "Montreal" rub enhances and does not mask.

When I wrote my post I forgot to add the suggestion to marinate briefly in a splash of red wine and of Worcesterishire sauce before seasoning. I find this helps to hold the seasoning and create a crust -- partly by enhancing the Maillard reaction.

Holding the salt until firing is a good idea but if you salt less than thirty minutes before cooking, the results will be indistinguishable from salting immediately before. And if you salt an hour ahead, there won't be much difference. Furthermore, you're not going to lose much moisture by salting a dry-aged piece of meat, because the meat is already dry, and depends on internal fat for moisture.

Maybe you can read a 3" steak/roast to within 5* using the press test, but I can't and I've been doing it a long time.

I truss (or wrap, which amounts to the same thing) any fillet more than 1-1/4 inch thick. It's how I was trained, it's a good way, and it's how it's done by oldschool pros who want to preserve a tidy shape, ensure even cooking, and even distribution of juices.

Remember that the OP describes the piece of meat as 2-1/2" to 3" thick at 12 oz -- that means it's going to be about 3" in diameter, and about 8 inches long. It's an idea size and shape to truss.

As always, trimming should only be done as necessary. No one is suggesting that good meat be trimmed. However, some pieces of meat come with residual flecks of fat and/or silverskin. These should be removed before cooking. If you want fat on the outside of the meat, bard it.

Our differences are parlty nomenclature, and partly substantive with respect to the nature of searing first and finishing indirect. The meat doesn't spend enough time over the direct flame to develop all of it's "char crust." The "bark" continues to develop during the indirect cooking period.

BDL
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post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the great advice!! I made the first steak on Wednesday and the second one on Friday. They both came out good. The first steak came out more Medium and the second one came out Med-Rare. I used Lump Wood Charcoal and made sure that my grill was at max heat. I used the finger method to test these steaks, the first one I had some trouble with as I sear both sides for 3 minutes and then moved it off the heat to let it cook slowly.

I would post 5 pictures but it will not let me.
post #20 of 25
I respect any one that recognizes their limitations. However you suggested that no one could temp a steak over 1.75" with out a thermometer. I simply do not agree. I can do it with ease and I have had numerous cooks that could do it as well. It is harder on a large fillet but as I noted you don't rely on the press test alone in that case. It takes a fair amount of experience to properly judge a fillet. A lot of steaks are over 1.75" in thickness and an experienced cook should not need a thermometer with most.
Having said that there is nothing wrong with using one. I am certainly not in the camp that believes a thermometer probe is going to degrade the quality of the steak. In the case of a roast I am in complete agreement with you.



With a fillet that is fresh or wet aged I might agree although IMO it's getting a bit carried away to truss any thing over 1.25". That means your trussing just about every fillet unless you are cutting medallions. Remember dry aged steaks typically lose a good 25% of their moisture so I think it's far more likely we are looking at a steak no more than 5- 6" long. That's a big fillet but not huge or any thing that needs to be turned into a roast. I don't disagree with you on the trimming however if you are buying a cut prime dry aged fillet and it has silver on it there is some thing seriously wrong.


I think we will just have to agree to disagree on this one. The char on a grilled steak and "bark" are two very different things. There is no reason that a steak should not be over the flame long enough to develop a good char crust. Especially with a thick steak. This is of course more difficult on a gas grill that might struggle to get over 600 degrees, however lump charcoal can top the 1,000 degree mark at the grate with ease. IMO there should not be any bark on a grilled fillet (unless you want it Pittsburgh) and if you roast a 12 ounce fillet long enough to develop bark it's likely going to be well done.
Chris, Glad to hear it turned out well for you. Cooking on lump charcoal is the only way to fly on a steak like this IMO. I know I could never give up my charcoal grill. It sounds like you got exactly where you wanted to be after only cooking one steak!
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #21 of 25
Congrats, Chris!:thumb: Could you tell a difference w/the dry aged compared to the typical wet aged? Did you use a rub or go w/S&P?
post #22 of 25
Our Research department decided to have a "team building" event, which turned out to be an excursion to the local Cook's Cooking school. They had an instructor from the local Le Cordon Bleu cooking school there to help.

There were about 14 of us. THe idea was to count off up to 6 and then the chef would identify what part of the lunch each number would be assigned to. He started off with 1 to do the salad, and then pointed right at me and asked me what my number was. It was 2, so he says "The 2's will cook the tenderloin roasts."

Four gigantic centercut beef tenderloins. I was in heaven. Wolf gas ranges and ovens to work with.

The entree was Horseradish encrusted Tenderloin with Red Wine Truffle sauce".

It was a piece of cake. Sear the tenderloins (2 to a pan) after rubbing them with OO and S&P. Then take a previously prepared (by us) mixture of Panko, soft butter, and Hot drained Horseradish. I was reluctant at first to rub the mixture on the hot tenderloins while they were still in the pans, but it went without a hitch. Then into the 450 F preheated Wolf oven. Instructions that came with each station, ours said bake to internal temp of 135 F.

We were up to about 120, and I was thinking just another 5 minutes or so, and the chef came by and looked at them and said take them out now.

So we did. While resting, I prepared the pan sauce with butter, shallots, red wine, reduce, add truffle oil and S&P to taste. By the 8 minutes it took for me to finish the sauce, we started slicing the tenderloins. Much of the meat was well done, or medium. Only the 2 biggest ones were close to MR in their centers.

I was surprised, but with the sauce and the fact that most of the people there weren't into seeing any pink in their meat, I got to have as much MR as I wanted. The sauce, actually, came out quite delicious, and the horseradish wasn't near as overpowering as I susptected. Much to the surprise of the chef, and despite not being mentioned in the instructions, I was able to throw a last slap of unsalted fresh butter into the finished sauce. He asked me where I learned that technique and I said, "Don't remember, but I think it was on Cheftalk!" :)

I wouldn't eat the shrimp dish, as I came across the raw shrimp sitting in a colander in the sink and I smelled them and they were really like "just washed up on shore" smelling. But everybody else said they tasted great after marinating them and serving them on croutes.

Anyway, the point is that temperature of the roasts provided much different results than even the instructions had dictated.

We finished up the afternoon at a place called Gnomes where they had $795 shots of Scotch whiskey on the bar menu! (Nope, the manager wouldn't spring for it) :(

doc
post #23 of 25
That sounds pretty darn tasty. I started growing horseradish this year but it looks like I need to wait another full season before I have roots large enough to harvest.
Next time talk the bar manager into shots of Louis XIII.
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks!!!! Yes, but not that much of a diffence. I used salt and pepper and added a little bit of seasoning.
post #25 of 25
Did the seller advertise how long your steaks were dry aged? There should be a distinct difference in flavor if they were dry aged properly although it's far more noticible on a rib eye or a porterhouse.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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