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Beef - Filet Mignon

Filet mignon (French for "dainty fillet") is a steak cut of beef taken from the tenderloin, or psoas major of the steer or heifer.

The tenderloin runs along either side of the spine, and is usually harvested as two long snake-shaped cuts of beef. 

The tenderloin (not to be confused with the short loin) is sometimes sold whole. If the short end of the tenderloin is cut into portions before cooking, that portion is known as filet mignon, or the fillet, from the French boneless meat (mignon meaning "small" as true mignons are cut from the smaller tail end of the tenderloin).

The fillet is considered to be the most tender cut of beef, and one of the most expensive. The average steer or heifer provides no more than 4-6 pounds of filet. Because the muscle is non-weight bearing, it receives very little exercise, which makes it tender.

The same cut of beef can also be called:

  • French: tournedos, filet de b�uf. (In France, though beef "filet mignon" exists, the term doesn't usually refer to beef, but instead to a tender and expensive cut of pork.)
  • English (US): medallions, tenderloin steak
  • English (UK & Ireland): fillet steak
  • Argentina: Bife de Lomo
  • Brazil: Fil� Mignon

Porterhouse steaks in the USA, equivalent to T-bone steaks in Commonwealth countries, are large cuts which include the fillet. The small medallion on one side of the bone is the fillet, and the long strip of meat on the other side of the bone is the strip steak�in British Commonwealth usage, only the strip steak is called the porterhouse.

The fillet can be cut into 1-2 inch thick portions, then grilled and served as-is. One can also find the fillet in stores already cut into portions and wrapped with bacon. High heat is the usual method for cooking the fillet. Either grilling, pan frying, broiling, or roasting is preferred.

Bacon is often used in cooking the filet because of the low levels of fat found in the filet. Filets also have low levels of marbling, or internal fat. Bacon is wrapped around the filet and pinned closed with a toothpick. This adds flavor and keeps the filet from drying out during the cooking process. 

Traditionally, filet mignon is seared on the outside using intense heat for a short time and then transferred to a lower heat to cook the meat all the way through. Filet mignon is often served rarer than other meats. Those who prefer a more well-done steak can request a "butterflied" filet, meaning that meat is cut down the middle, and opened up to expose more of the meat to heat during the cooking process.

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