How to Cook Filet Mignon in a Pan
We bought a side of beef in the spring of 2012 and stored it all in our basement freezer to supply our red meat quota for the year. Included in the side of beef were 6 packs of filet mignon. I’m a huge fan of filet when dining out, but I was terrified to prepare it myself for fear of ruining it and wasting the best cut of meat on the entire cow. So it sat.
Now that spring of 2013 is rolling around, most of the beef from our freezer has been lovingly prepared and enjoyed. All that’s left is a few roasts, some organ meat that will probably never see the light of day, and this package of filet. I don’t know what I was waiting for . . . A special occasion? Me to get over my fear of preparing filet? For whatever reason, it sat there for an entire year.
Last weekend was my husband’s birthday. When I went downstairs to inventory the freezer for dinner inspiration, I noticed that lone package of filets waiting to be devoured. I decided there was no time like the present, so I brought it up and placed it in the fridge to defrost. When it came time to prepare the steak, I went to my most trusted source for all things foodie — Ina Garten. Naturally she has a Steakhouse Steaks Recipe that guided me through the process of how to cook filet mignon in a pan on the stovetop — the best way to cook filet, from what I understand.
We were surprised to find, when we opened the packets, that each contained not one but TWO steaks. Let’s do the math. We are a family of 5. That made 12 steaks. They had already been defrosted, so I couldn’t really put them back so I decided we had no choice but to have the same dinner two nights in a row. What that means is that I got to test this recipe twice in one weekend. It came out perfectly BOTH times. The second time, I decided we ought to photograph it for ye olde blawg. And here we are!
I served the steaks both nights with Ina’s Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and steamed green beans. This Hess Select Cabernet was the perfect accompaniment. It was a splurge, but I wanted something worthy of my steaks and my husband’s birthday since we weren’t going out anywhere fancy this year.
As for the steaks, they are really so easy to prepare it’s hard to believe there’s not more to it. You start by rolling them in a mixture of salt and cracked pepper.
Then you want to heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for about five minutes until it’s super duper hot. (I love and adore my Lodge Cast Iron Skillets; I have 3 in different sizes and I use them all the time. They’re very affordable, go right from stovetop to oven, and clean up splendidly.)
Ina said to brush the steaks with vegetable oil before rolling them in the salt and pepper, but I don’t keep vegetable oil in the house and I didn’t know if olive oil would be the right flavor. My lard is solid at room temperature so I just rolled the steaks in the the salt and pepper and then put lard in the hot pan and seared them in that. It worked just fine.
THIS IS THE SECRET TRICK.Once they are seared on all sides (even the sides, not just front and back, although I found that really hard to do – they don’t exactly stand up on their sides without a little help), you put a tablespoon of butter on the top of each one. I KNOW. It sounds ridiculously indulgent, but this is supposedly what makes them savory and delicious like the restaurants.
Then you pop the pan into a 400-degree oven just long enough to cook them through.
Meanwhile I prepared mashed potatoes and steamed some green beans. Ina’s Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes are always a hit. I put my son to work making those while I made the Roquefort Chive Sauce sauce for the steaks.
We don’t like our steaks super rare so I think we cooked them for 8-9 minutes. The meat thermometer read 140, and they looked like this right out of the oven.
I covered them with tin foil for 10 minutes while I finished the rest of the dinner prep. And here it is!
Does that look divine? It’s 7:30 AM and I could dig in right now if I had any left over.
- 6 filet mignon steaks
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 ounces French Roquefort cheese, crumbled
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (I used dried)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes until it's scorching hot.
- Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and roll them in the salt and pepper mixture, coating evenly on all sides.
- Melt 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil in the hot skillet and add the steaks. Sear them evenly on all sides.
- Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter, and place the skillet in the oven; cook the steaks until they reach your desired temp. For rare, you'll want 120 degrees F. For medium rare, 125, for medium 130. (Insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you're actually testing the middle of the steak.)
- Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with Roquefort Chive Sauce on the side, if desired.
- Bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Cook at a low boil until it's thick and creamy -- 10-15 minutes.
- Off the heat, add the rest and whisk rapidly until the cheese melts.
Between the 5 of us, we devoured the 6 steaks and we all probably could have had more. We chased our steak dinner with cupcakes from a local bakery in honor of my husband’s birthday.
I think it’s safe to say they all enjoyed it.