Filet mignon is a steak cut of beef taken from the smaller end of the tenderloin, or psoas major of the beef carcass, usually a steer or heifer. In French, this cut can also be called filet de bœuf, which translates in English to beef fillet. The tenderloin runs along both sides of the spine, and is usually harvested as two long snake-shaped cuts of beef. The tenderloin is sometimes sold whole. When sliced along the short dimension, creating roughly round cuts, and tube cuts, the cuts (fillets) from the small forward end are filet mignon. Those from the center are tournedos; however, some butchers in the United States label all types of tenderloin steaks "filet mignon."
The tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef and is also arguably the most desirable and therefore the most expensive. The average steer or heifer provides no more than 500 grams of filet mignon. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue, which makes it tender. However, it is generally not as flavorful as some other cuts of beef (example, primal rib cuts), and is often wrapped in bacon to enhance flavor, and/or is served with a sauce.
The same cut of beef can also be called:
French: filet mignon or filet de bœuf
French (Québec): filet mignon
English (U.S.): medallions, tenderloin steak
English (UK, Ireland): fillet steak
English (Australia, New Zealand): eye fillet
Indonesian: has dalam
Swedish: filet mignon
Spanish: filete miñón or filet mignon
Bahasa Melayu: hujung batang pinang
Portuguese: filé or filé mignon
Russian: филе миньон
Filet mignon may be cut into 1- to 2-inch-thick portions, then grilled and served as-is. High heat is the usual method for cooking the filet mignon, either grilling, pan frying, broiling, or roasting. Traditionally in European and American restaurants, fillets are most often served in a cognac cream sauce, au poivre with peppercorns, or in a red wine reduction.
Bacon is often used in cooking filet mignon because of the low levels of fat found in the cut, as fillets have low levels of marbling, or intramuscular fat. Bacon is wrapped around the fillet and pinned closed with a wooden toothpick. This adds flavor and keeps the fillet from drying out during the cooking process. Traditional cooking calls for the filet mignon to be seared on each side 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 preferring a more well-done steak can request a "butterflied" filet, meaning that the meat is cut down the middle and opened up to expose more of it to heat during the cooking process.