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Using pork and filet mignon in the same sentence might at first evoke the image of crispy bacon wrapped around the tenderest piece of steak from a cow, with the filet mignon sliced from the prized tenderloin roast. Though the taste is saltier and more distinctively piggish, a pork filet mignon is another, much-cheaper alternative. Still often wrapped in bacon, these cutlets can be prepared in much the same way as the beef versions, with subtle seasonings and a quick-but-mindful searing in the oven or on the grill.
Pigs do not have as complicated a primal system as cows, with butchers subdividing their flanks into eight distinct sections, from the chuck of the shoulder to the round of the rump. A pig simply has an arm and shoulder-blade section, a loin from which the ribs are trimmed, the belly that makes what are known as spare ribs, and the leg section that becomes ham. In a cow, the filet steaks are cut from a tenderloin that extends along the spine in two primal sections: the loin and the sirloin. For pigs, the same section is encompassed by the loin alone, but it is an equally underworked piece of meat. Though pork filet mignon is among the most expensive pork, it still usually cheaper than beef tenderloin.
Considering the storied succulence of this cut, renowned as the leanest and, hence, most tender, many prefer to seal all the juices inside by roasting the tenderloin whole, then slicing off pieces at mealtime. Still others prefer a pork filet mignon that is trimmed from the same cut before any cooking takes place, resulting in a hyper-seasoned sear on all sides. No matter the method, this cut is amenable to drier, higher-heat cooking methods like grilling, roasting and broiling.
Some prepare pork filet mignon by simply rubbing on some oil and dashing the meat with salt and pepper. A hot grill is all that is needed for seared, naturally-flavored meat. Others think ahead more than that, bathing the filets for as long as overnight in the refrigerator in a flavor-enhancing marinade. This could be a store-bought barbecue or teriyaki sauce; it could also be a complex blend of oil, fresh herbs and citrus juice. Many follow this marination with a quick sear, followed perhaps by a short stretch in the oven.
Another way to prepare pork filet mignon is by stuffing the tenderloin first. Just like beef tenderloin can be stuffed, strung up and baked in the oven, so too can pork tenderloin. A common technique is to quarter the tenderloin without cutting all the way through, creating a long, four-paneled roast. Then, a stuffing goes into the these folds, made with ingredients like cheese, onion, mushroom and breadcrumbs. Finally, the tenderloin is rolled back up, strung shut and baked. The filets are cut when the stuffed roast is done cooking.
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