Grilling the Perfect Filet Mignon

06.15.11

Mr. Banks taught us a few awesome tips for grilling a good steak, and with Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of my new-found grilling super powers. Brent and I thought we’d put his pro tips to work on a pair of filet mignon (filets mignon? help me out here).

These tips also work great on a t-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, or strip steak. I like a filet mignon because it is super lean and tender. It’s a non weight bearing cut so it is often so tender you can cut it with your fork. My kind of steak. My husband prefers something with a little more flavor and marble, so we may be grilling His and Hers steaks for Father’s Day this year.

Any of the cuts I mentioned are pretty great for turning out a great steak. Just make sure to buy the right breed and brand. Mr. Banks says Black Angus is his favorite.

(As a random side note, you may not have been around long enough to know we raised a couple black angus of our own. They are not my favorite to raise. They love to break out, usually while you are trying to feed your children breakfast. I was forever herding them home, usually dropping everything mid-breakfast, throwing on pasture boots and occasionally running dead sprint to cut them off, all this while I was 7-months pregnant. ya. good times.)

Let’s get to the grilling. Here are seven steps to grilling the perfect premium Father’s Day steak with Mr. Banks pro tips included.

1. Buy the right meat. I know, we’ve been over this, I just wanted to make sure we agreed. Black Angus is always a safe bet. Any other favorites?
2. Bring the steak to room temp. Chilled filets at the beginning mean dry filets at the end. Pat those filets dry with a paper towel, then let them sit out on the counter for 30 min or so. Then pat again.
3. Season with ground pepper. With a filet mignon especially, because it is so lean, I occasionally like to add granulated garlic and rosemary. But keep it light, and don’t marinade a prime cut (filet, t-bone, porterhouse, ribeye, or strip steak). You don’t want to cover the natural flavor.
NOTE on SALT: I prefer not to add salt until after grilling, because it can pull the moisture right out of that prime steak (I’ve tested a salted and nonsalted steak, it really is true). If you have an, ahem, more economy priced cut of beef, I love this method (found via stephmodo) of slathering on the salt.
4. Preheat the grill. For searing a steak, you’ll want your grill hot and ready to caramelize the natural juices in your steak. You’ll know your grill is ready if you hold your hand a couple inches above the grill and can’t keep it there for more than two seconds. For a gas grill, this will take about 20 minutes. Mr. Banks always uses charcoal. I used gas. Don’t judge me, Mr. Banks!
5. Okay, are you ready to grill? You need one more thing. A pair of BBQ tongs. And put your meat thermometer away. Never, and I mean never, pierce your filets. You’ll lose the natural juices. Mr. Banks taught me a great trick for finding out when your steak is done without a thermometer, which is coming in two steps.
6. Let’s grill. Put that filet on the grill and let it grill for three minutes, keeping the lid open. Handle the filet as little as possible. Pick up the filet, with your tongs, and rotate it a quarter turn to get those great grill marks. Let it grill three minutes longer. Now flip the steak and do the same thing on the opposite side.
7. Test for doneness. This is where Mr. Banks pro tip comes in. Once you’ve carmelized both sides of your steak, it should be done if you like it rare. If not, close the lid and let the steak cook until it has reached just under your desired tenderness (it will continue to cook a little once you pull it off the grill).

To find out how done your steak is without doing the unthinkable (piercing it with a thermometer), test by pushing on the top of your steak and seeing how firm it is. Then compare against the feel of the muscle on your hand just under your thumb (modeled here by the lovely Mrs. Banks, while holding my baby so I could take pictures). The firmness when your thumb is against your pointer is what your steak will feel like if it is rare. Thumb against your middle finger is medium. And thumb against your ring finger is well done. Go ahead, give it a try.

rare:
medium:
well:

7. And the final tip, that we learned from Mr. Banks last time, is to let that meat rest. Ten minutes is good, twenty is better. Wrap those filets in foil and set them in a cooler and let the juices redistribute. This is also super nice when you’re entertaining, it gives you plenty of time to finish up any extra details or grill some veggies with your full attention.

When you sit down to your steak, you’ll be glad you waited.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

SamanthaLee June 15, 2011 at 9:13 am

And now I want filet mignon at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Yum.

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Miranda June 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Dude. This is a great post. I have grilled a lot of steaks over the years and have never learned that “rule of them” (Ha! I’m so clever) for the doneness. How is that possible? I usually just go by my instincts and time and fortunately we like our steaks on the rare side. :) Thanks for all of the great tips!

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Tammy June 16, 2011 at 6:22 am

Awesome post. I was planning on getting my husband steak of some sort for Father’s Day.

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edith June 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

What a great tip to know the steak’s doneness. I never knew.

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Dave Beaulieu November 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Right on…great tips. But you don’t have to grill (although grilling is great). Pan roasting is a great technique too: I talk a bit more about that, and your same points here: http://www.noreciperequired.com/technique/how-cook-perfect-filet-mignon

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kk December 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm

One question. If you put the finished steaks in a cooler for 10-20 minutes won’t they be cold when you serve them? I like my steak hot! Any suggestions?

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AmberLee December 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm

kk, this is a quandry. when we put ours in the cooler for that long, I admit they weren’t hot, but they were still pretty warm and mmmm good. i’d say maybe try to give them at least 8 minutes in that cooler?

can anyone else help kk?

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Adam March 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

The “cooler” will keep cold things cold and hot things hot.
I’ve put really hot water in a Nalgene and placed the bottle in the cooler with the steak and it sure did a good job at keeping the steak quite warm. Especially here at a mile high.

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Peggy June 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

Great tips… Mostly that is the methods I use except I use a “grilling ribbed “frying pan” I love it… Well, on Father’s Day…. My 40 yr old son and me ( his 60 yr old mom ) will be having a filet steak grilling Smackdown….. 10 family members from 4 to 65 will judge on 1. Grill markings , 2. Seasoning-flavor, 3. Perfection of the medium rareness, and supreme tenderness of taste. The entire family are excited and casting their hopes that the Dad will win…… But Mom is an underdog with …… A very calm smile… That her steak will WIN the steak smack down…… Great memories and family together will make us all winners…..

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Jonathan July 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Excellent advice for avoiding the meat thermometer! I think less time is needed to preheat a gas grill — mine is up to 600 degrees within about 5-10 minutes. Also, after grilling, letting the steaks sit 5-10 minutes is usually plenty. Most of the time, the other food is ready and no one wants to wait 20 whole minutes! So, yeah, dont cut them directly off of the grill, but 5-10 minutes is usually good :).

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Linda July 29, 2012 at 6:07 am

We burn EVERYTHING! My husband gave up grilling and I kept at it but burnt all. This is the first grilling lesson that all came out perfect!!! I was shocked and awed!!!! I’m still stunned this morning after perfect steaks last night! Thank you so much!

Linda

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Barbara October 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Thank you so much. Your tips totally make sense. Other websites and blogs suggested things that are intuitively horrifying, including Paula Deen’s “recipe” to marinate filet in salad dressing!!!! Will be trying this out tomorrow since we are having our annual October summer in San Diego, perfect for grilling.

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Scott December 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

Great tips,made me the most popular guy on christmas.Happy holidays 🎅

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Becky January 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

WOW!!! I have loved filet mignon since I was little and tonight cooked my very first. After these tips there isn’t a steak house that can do better! My husband and I love them. Thanks so much…we will be doing this once a month.

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