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.

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