Perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon

Medium Rare Filet Mignon

Seared outside, perfectly pink inside

Yeah, that’s right, you read the title correctly. This is serious stuff, so there’s no room for false modesty here. I’m going to show you how to grill filet mignon cuts of steak perfectly, every time.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Filet Mignon cut steaks
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh coarse-ground pepper
  • Soaked Hickory Chips (optional)

Special Utensils:

  • Barbeque Grill
  • Meat thermometer

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Serves 4

Get the charcoal started if you’re using a charcoal grill. While the coals are getting ready, take the steaks out of the refrigerator and sprinkle with kosher salt and ground pepper. Filet mignon cuts of steak are so good I like to keep it real simple with the seasoning. The steaks should sit out at room temp for up to a half hour before they go on the grill (but meat shouldn’t be left at room temp for any more time than that).

Charcoal Grill

Coals on one side only!

If you want nice branded grill marks, make sure the grill has been well-heated over the coals. When the coals are ready spread them out in a one-coal deep layer one one side of the grill only- this is important. Using a gas grill? I highly recommend charcoal, but if you MUST use a gas grill you’ll just fire up and preheat the burners on one side then.

Filet Migons on the grill

Searing up nicely

Now put the steaks on directly over the coals (or the hot side if you’re using a gas grill). Cover but leave all the grill vents open. We want a lot of heat. Turn the steaks over after a few minutes. Turn twice each side on diagonals if you want that “steakhouse commercial” grill mark look.  We want to get a good sear on the outside of the steaks.  We don’t want to burn the outside, just give it a good dark-brown sear. Why is a good sear so important? It’s not to seal in the juices, as some people think. It creates flavor . . .

Science Alert: Searing the steaks causes a process called the “Maillard Reaction”, a chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids in the meat when exposed to high heat. This creates dozens, maybe hundreds of delicious flavor compounds. THAT’s why a good sear is so important.

Once the outside has a good sear, close the grill vents halfway. move the steaks to the cooler side of the grill, and cover up again. Cooking quickly on the hot side and letting the steak finish more slowly on the cooler side is what’s going to give you the perfect seared outside and pink medium-rare throughout inside. Insert a meat thermometer in one of the steaks. If these were thinner cuts we could just test the doneness by touch, but with thick filet cuts a meat thermometer will make sure they’re just right. And “just right” for me is medium rare. I used to say the rarer the better, but these days I think medium rare makes for the best flavor and texture. And as I said in the Steak Au Poivre post, anything more than medium rare is just a crime against the steak.  I like to throw a handful of hickory chips that I soaked in water for a half hour onto the coals at this point. Not necessary if you don’t want to, but it gives the steaks a nice added smoky flavor.

So when the meat thermometer is EXACTLY at 125 degrees (140-150 degrees for medium/medium well if you really have to) take the steaks off the heat and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Resting the steak is important because it allows the meat juices to reabsorb back into the muscle fibers of the steak so it stays nice and juicy. If you start cutting the steak up too soon those juices will just run out onto your plate.

Serve with your favorite vegetable and side (I did grilled asparagus from the applewood smoked chicken post and simple baked potatoes). Enjoy your perfectly grilled steak!

 

One Comment

  1. Beth Planakis May 1, 2011 4:11 pm Reply

    I do believe that description and picture made me drool just a little…I love my steaks with “hundreds of delicious flavor compounds.” But alas, we have a gas BBQ.

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