Whenever we get a hankering for a steakhouse dinner, we immediately imagine that quintessential, buttery filet mignon. There’s something so elegant about that lean, tender piece of meat; that irony, distinct flavor; and always accompanied with some sort of indulgent side that forces you to unbutton your pants at the dinner table. For us, there are three pillars to the perfect filet mignon (or any steak for that matter): flavor, fat, and temperature. All three components need to be just right to culminate in that perfect bite. These are our tricks for the holy trinity—but be warned…your wallet might loathe you after you discover the urge to make this a weekly tradition!
Serving: 2 carnivorous indulgers
2 8oz-pieces of filet mignon (we buy free range/grass fed—the higher quality the meat, the better the flavor)
1 stick of butter (8 tbs), room temperature
1 tbs canola oil (or any oil with a high smoke-point)
10 sprigs of thyme
This recipe for the perfect filet mignon is done, in part, with a sous vide. If you don’t have a sous vide, you’ll need to switch around the steps a bit. There will be a note at the end of the recipe!
Pat the filets dry. Take 1/2 the stick of butter (4 tbs) and spread the butter all over the two pieces of steak. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to either side of the steak. The butter should help the salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to stick.
In a vacuum-seal bag (or a resealable bag if you don’t have), place the seasoned pieces of meat inside. Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer (if you don’t have, just zip the bag shut).
Fill a large pot with water, and attach the sous vide to the side of the pot. Set the temperature for 126°F for medium-rare (that’s how we take our steaks). When the water has reached that temperature, submerge the bag with the steaks into the water. Make sure the bag is fully submerged and half the meat isn’t sticking out of the water! You want even cooking throughout! The meat should continue to cook in there for a specific time depending on the thickness of the meat:
- Sous vide 1-inch thick steak for 1 hour
- Sous vide 1.5-inch thick steak for 1 hour, 45 minutes
- Sous vide 2-inch thick steak for 3 hours
- Sous vide 2.5-inch thick steak for 4 hours, 15 minutes
The cook time is regarded as a “minimum”. The meat must remain in the sous vide until it has reached the desired internal temperature that you set your machine to. After reaching that internal temperature, the meat can remain inside the sous vide bath for additional hours. The environment that’s been created will make it almost impossible to “overcook”. The meat will simply maintain the desired internal temperature. This is how you will perfect the temperature element to your “three pillars” of sublime steak. If you like your steak a different doneness, here’s a chart you can look at as a reference:
- Rare: 120°F (49°C) to 128°F (53°C)
- Medium-Rare: 129°F (54°C) to 134°F (57°C)
- Medium: 135°F (57°C) to 144°F (62°C)
- Medium-Well: 145°F (63°C) to 155°F (68°C)
- Well Done: 156°F (69°C) and up
We go slightly under the desired temperature for medium-rare because we’re going to sear it after it comes out of the sous vide, and the steak will continue to cook a little more.
After the steak has cooked to your desired internal temperature in the sous vide bath, remove the steak from the vacuum-seal bag and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper again on each side of the steaks. This will add more flavor and help create a slight crust when you sear. Flavor component, check!
Set a large skillet over high heat. Put the oil in the pan, and as soon as the pan begins to smoke, place the filets in the skillet. Do not touch. Let them sear for about 1 minute on the first side. Then, flip the steaks over, and add the rest of the butter (the other 1/2 stick-4 tbs) to the skillet with the thyme. You want to “fry” the thyme in that butter. After about 30 seconds, place the thyme on top of the meat. The butter should be fully melted and foaming. Now, you want to baste the meat in that butter. Using a spoon, carefully scoop the butter from the side of the pan on top of the meat, repeatedly, for another minute or 2. This takes care of the “fat” component of our steak trio.
At this point, you want to take the steaks out of the pan, set it on a tray/plate/cutting board to rest. It will need to rest for at least 10 minutes. This will help the juices to return to the steak, and not “bleed” all over your plates. Be patient. It’s worth it!
**Tip: We put a little extra nob of butter on the steak while it rests for even more indulgence!
After the meat has rested, it’s time! Sit back, open a beautiful Bordeaux, and relax, because you’re about to eat like royalty!
If you don’t have a sous vide machine, as we said earlier, you’ll need to switch around your steps. You’ll go straight to the searing part. Season the outside of the steaks with salt and pepper, sear in a piping hot oven-safe skillet on one side, flip, add 1/2 stick (4 tbs) of butter with the thyme, fry the thyme, place the thyme on top of the steaks, and baste for another minute or two with the foaming butter. Then, you’ll want to place the skillet into a 400°F oven, and cook the meat until it reaches your desired internal temperature—about 10 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. You’ll want to check on the temperature, using a meat thermometer, to be sure they don’t overcook. Finally, you’ll rest the steaks the same as in the original recipe! ENJOY!