The perfectly seared filet mignon is typically browned and slightly charred on the outside, deep pink on the inside, and hot all the way through. Searing filet mignon locks juices, flavor, and nutrients into the meat, often yielding a very tasty and nutritious entrée. There are three ways to sear filet mignon, though all three generally produce the same results. Some of the best tips for searing filet mignon, no matter what technique the cook uses, include thawing frozen cuts completely and placing it in a very hot pan to cook. More tips involve leaving the meat alone while it sears and using a meat thermometer to test for doneness.
Before searing filet mignon, the cook must thaw the meat if it is frozen. Frozen meat takes much longer to cook than fresh or thawed meat, often resulting in a dry, tasteless steak. Totally thawed filet mignon usually warms through quickly, rendering it not only tasty, but generally safe to eat. Those that purchase their steaks fresh and plan to use them the same day need not freeze them. Fresh steaks may sit in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before they’re cooked, if necessary.
The second tip for properly searing filet mignon involves placing the meat in a hot pan or skillet. The first way to heat the searing skillet is to place it on a stove burner and let it warm at slightly above medium heat for about five minutes. Cooks may also place an oven-safe skillet in a 375°F (about 190°C) oven for five to 10 minutes. Skillets or grill pans made of cast iron generally work best for this kind of cooking. The pan should be lightly coated in oil if placed on top of the stove, but left dry if placed in the oven. Since a hot oven surrounds the meat with warmth, any oil in the bottom of the cooking pan may cause the filets to burn in the oven method.
The cook should typically place the filets in the hot skillet and let them heat. Some may have the urge to lift the pieces to see if they’re done, but fighting this urge allows the steak to warm evenly and acquire a nice, brown sear. Most 1-inch (about 2-cm) thick steaks require about three to five minutes of cooking on each side, whether in the oven or on top of it. Some techniques also call for the cook to sear the meat for just a minute or two on the stove top, then move it to the warmed oven for about five minutes to warm through. This is the third technique for searing filet mignon.
Some cooks may be able to tell if their filets are cooked fully just by the way they look, feel, or smell, but others may want to take the filets’ temperature to be certain. Slipping a meat thermometer into a steak eliminates the need to slice into it — which can release juices and make the meat taste dry — to check for doneness. Generally, 135°F (about 57°C) indicates rare meat, while 145°F (62°C) and 155°F (68°C) indicate medium and well-done steaks, respectively. Resting the meat for about five minutes before serving allows the juices to soak back into the filet, typically yielding a juicy piece of beef.