How to Grill Filet Mignon
July 7, 2008
Filet Mignon...even the name sounds intimidating. Most captains of the grill panic at the shear mention of this great piece of meat. Nightmares of burning, drying and otherwise screwing up this fine cut of beef can make even the most seasoned grill chef break out in hives! Why the stress? Because this is an expensive cut of meat. The filet is cut from the tenderloin and the average cow only contains 4 - 6 pounds of it, hence the cost. Not to fear though, we will show you how easy it can be with step by step directions. The key is to keep it simple and let the tenderness and flavor of this awesome cut of beef shine through.
Less IS More…
When grilling filet mignon (and almost any other grilled steak for that matter), less is definitely more. Less seasoning, less grilling time, less flipping, less poking and prodding...you get the point. So there is no need to panic, filet mignon is such a prime cut of meat that it is very easy to grill a masterpiece, especially if you purchase high quality and all-natural filets. Before you even touch that steak, let's look at what you should never, ever do to that poor juicy steak.
- NEVER puncture your steak! We will talk about how to tell if it is done later.
- NEVER close the lid! My Dad used to say "if you are looking, you are not cooking". Sorry Dad, that's not true for steak…
- NEVER cook it too long. The best way to upset your steak is to cook it too long. There is nothing worst than a $15 piece of beef jerky. Remember, you can always throw it back on for a few more minutes.
Grilling Filet Mignon, Step by Step…
Let's break this thing down so you can see how easy this is going to be.
1Step 1 - Seasoning. You paid a lot for this filet, give it some credit that it is going to hold it's own in the taste department. The only seasoning I recommend to help this steak out is some fresh ground black pepper. Save the course salt for the end, some say it draws out juices. I doubt it does, but why take the chance?
1Step 2 - Leave it alone! In order to reduce grilling time and ensure consistent cooking throughout the steak, we must bring the filet to room temperature. This is your easiest step, once it's seasoned just leave it on the kitchen counter. Your patience will be rewarded, trust me…just let it get into the "zone" by itself and move onto these next steps. Let it sit for at least 45 minutes. Go on, leave it alone, move on to the next step!
2Step 3 - Fire it up! We are going to use direct heat to grill this delicious steak, so fire up your grill and set it and leave it at the highest temperature setting. You will know she is ready when you can't hold your hand 2 inches above the grates for more than 5 seconds (don't try and be tough, you know it hurts…). If you are a charcoal griller, follow this guide for lighting a charcoal grill and set up your grill for hot, direct grilling by creating a pile 2 coals high.
3Step 4 - Sear in those juices! Ok, the moment of truth, your steak has been getting itself ready on the counter and now it's game time! Using TONGS (remember, don't EVER puncture that beautiful steak's flesh!) place your steaks on the grill and do NOTHING for at least 2 minutes. The only exception to this rule is if you have to play firefighter and splash a little water on a pesky flame. A little flare up is fine, but if a flame burns for more than 30 seconds, splash a tiny bit of water on it to put it out.
4Step 5 - Grill marks! All we are doing here is creating those cool looking grill marks. After about 2 minutes (for medium-rare, a little more for Medium), lift, turn your steak 90 degrees and then set it back down for another 3 minutes (again, for medium-rare, a little more if you have to have it more done).
5Step 6 - Flip once! After a total of about 5 minutes, it's time to flip that steak for the one and only time. Gently lift, flip and set it back down in the same spot and leave it alone again for about 2 more minutes.
6Step 7 - Rotate again. This is getting easy, you know what is next. Repeat Step 5 on this side now!
7Step 8 - Check it. Now it is time to check your steak for the perfect doneness. The very best way to ensure proper doneness is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. The Thermapen is by far the best meat thermometer on the market. A favorite of TV and restaurant chefs, it is highly accurate, instant, automatically turns on and off (no buttons to mess with) and never needs calibration. Highly recommended if you cook a lot, get it here. Insert the thermometer into the side of the steak to measure the very center and then check out our grilling tips for a temperature chart to determine your preferred doneness. Better yet for you iPhone owners, download our FREE MeatTemps iPhone app for an easy to use meat doneness reference.
1 Step 9 - Remove and rest. Take it off the grill now, you are done with the heat section! Remove it and set it on a plate or platter and leave it alone.
2Your beautiful filet has been through a traumatic experience. It went from refrigerated to room temperature to a HOT grill. This plays havoc on the juices inside so we need to give it some time to collect itself. Now that it is on the platter, let it rest again for 2 - 3 minutes (which will now seem like 2 hours!). This allows the juices to re-distribute, so they don't all run out when you slice into that beautiful hunk of beef.
1Step 10 - Enjoy! Go ahead, enjoy it!
See? I told you that was easy! Less IS more when grilling filet mignon. Try a less expensive cut of meat next time. You don't have to pay a lot of money or get real fancy when grilling steak, just focus on technique. Also remember to throw in some grilled chicken for those guests or family members that don't eat red meat. Check out some of our other grilling recipes to get more ideas for your next cookout, including chicken.