This recipe for Pan Seared Filet Mignon has been my go-to method for many years. It’s simple and essentially foolproof. For most of our marriage, my husband has been in charge of cooking meat. He’s claimed the grill as his domain and so does most of his cooking outside. Lately however, it has been tundra cold here in the midwest. Standing out in front of the grill in -0 temps just doesn’t sound appealing at all. So the kitchen it is, my domain. This recipe as I said is foolproof and beyond easy. I would argue it’s even better than grilled. Grill masters are all about those perfect grill marks. Lines of well seared surface. However, in a cast iron skillet the entire top and bottom of your steak has that delicious seared surface.
I’m not sure why a filet mignon dinner somehow became a poster child entree for Valentine’s Day but you’ll see it as the special in fine restaurants and steak houses everywhere. Maybe because, made properly, it is one of the very best, most tender cuts of meat and what better than the best for your valentine? So if you want steakhouse quality filet mignon as a romantic stay-at-home home holiday, give this recipe a try.
Here are the points that I think are the most important to achieving filet success:
- Give your filets time to come to room temperature before cooking.
- Some recipes will call for adding olive oil to your pan. I prefer a dry sear with just a bit of sea salt or kosher salt. I find there’s no need for the oil if you have properly seasoned your steak. Be careful, not all salts are the same. Even different brands of kosher salt will have different saltiness levels. Morton kosher salt is twice as salty as other brands. Taste it. Know your seasonings.
- Use a timer! Don’t just guess the cooking times. Things happen quickly here. And in the span of just 1-2 minutes time, your filets can go from exactly the way you want them to overcooked.
- Resist the urge to move the filets around in the pan. You want to get that perfect sear on the outside. Let them be!
- After the first 4 minutes of cook time, flip the filets over to the second side and IMMEDIATELY transfer everything to your oven. The filets will simultaneously sear on the second side while cooking in the center.
- Once removed from the oven allow your steaks to rest for AT LEAST 5 minutes. This is a very difficult process for my husband who wants his steak sizzling hot off the pan. I assure you, if you tent it with foil and let it sit, you will be rewarded with a bite of juicy steak instead of a steak sitting in a puddle of escaped juices. Resting allows the natural meat juices to redistribute through the muscle, relaxing the meat fibers so you can savor delicious tender and juicy beef Remove beef from heat. Place on a warm plate or serving platter. Cover loosely with foil (too tight and you’ll make the hot meat sweat and lose valuable moisture)
The flavor and texture of perfectly cooked filet mignon is wonderful all on its own. Sea salt and pepper are seasoning enough but today I tried Heinen’s Two Brothers Sweet and Smokey Seasoning and I’m glad I did. It did not overpower the meat but gave it a subtle layer of flavor that made it a step above. I can’t wait to try it on other things. I also added a bit of garlic butter to the finished steak. We like our steaks rare to medium rare. For those of you who like a medium well or well steak smothered in steak sauce or ketchup, I am feeling a duty to encourage you to try a well made steak properly seasoned and properly cooked so you can appreciate it at its best.
Today, I wanted to add a vegetable instead of a starch to our dinner, saving room for dessert. I decided that today I would add baby bok choy to the menu. It’s light and not terribly starchy like some vegetables can be and it almost doubles as a salad. I simply drizzled a small amount of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt on the bok choy and grilled them in a grill pan. They’re quick and easy to make and tasted delicious with the filet.
Pan Seared Filet Mignon
- 2 filet mignon steaks, each about 6 to 8 counces and 2-inches thick
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Two Brothers Sweet and Smokey
- Softened butter and fresh chopped garlic to finish the steaks, optional
- Remove the filets from your refrigerator. Using a paper towel dry the surfaces of the meat. Season the top and bottom surfaces with salt and black pepper, using your fingers to gently press down on the seasoning so it adheres to the meat. Let them set them on your counter top for approximately 30 minutes. This allows them to come to room temperature and allows the salt to permeate the meat. Filet mignon is lean and typically does not require any trimming.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 425°. After your filets have come to room temperature, add your other desired seasonings, like Two Brothers Sweet and Smokey. Do not season the sides, just the top and bottom. Set aside.
- Heat an oven-proof stainless steel sauté pan or cast iron skillet (my choice always) over medium-high heat let it get hot. REALLY hot. To tell when it is ready splash a few drops of water from wet hands into the pan. If it sizzles and dissipates quickly the pan is ready. I like to add a bit of salt to the bottom of the hot dry skillet.
- Add the filets and let them cook undisturbed for 4 minutes. DO NOT move the filets around in the pan during this time. BE PATIENT no peaking.
- Then, using a pair of tongs, flip the filets over to the second side and IMMEDIATELY transfer the entire sauté pan to your pre-heated oven. Cook the filets in your oven for 5-8 minutes, depending on your preferred level of doneness: 5-6 minutes for rare, 6-7 minutes for medium-rare or 7-8 minutes for medium.
- Carefully remove the sauté pan from your oven and transfer the filets to a clean plate or cutting board. Top with a pat of garlic butter. Tent them with foil and let them rest for 5-7 minutes. Do not leave the filets to rest in your sauté pan, or they will overcook due to the residual heat in the pan.
- Transfer the filets to serving plates, spooning any residual juices over top. Serve immediately.
Temperatures for steak
Rare: 120° F to 125° F
Medium rare: 125° F to 130° F
Medium: 135° F to 140° F
Medium well: 145° F to 150° F
Well done: 160° F and above
No self-respecting Valentine’s Day dinner would be complete without dessert. Normally I’m all about making my own desserts but If I want to spend time with the person I love, minimizing time in the kitchen is key. I opted for a selection of Two Brother Brownies. Fair warning, they are rich and decadent and difficult to resist. They come in many varieties from chocolate chip to salted caramel. If you haven’t tried them, DO! If you have tried them, you know!
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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