Filet Mign-YAWN

Tenderloin (aka the Filet) -it is the most expensive cut of beef, but other than being tender I find little about this cut that is noteworthy. Albeit the shape of the tenderloin allows numerous uniform cuts that can have plate appeal but I’m talking straight up beef eating pleasure- and other than not having to chew very much I find this cut, well, inferior really.

 

 Why is tenderloin and filet mignon so popular? Because we have a love affair in America with tenderness and often the quality of the steak is judged by how tender it is, but how often do you slather a filet with butter or sauce, or wrap it in pastry with mushrooms and foie gras, or…. I’ll tell you why this is done- it’s tender but on its own it pretty much lacks flavor. Now you can dry age the short loin and try to develop the flavor of the tenderloin but the NY strip will inherently have more depth than the filet.

 

 Part of the problem with the tenderloin is that it is a suspension muscle and does not do much. And like lazy people that don’t do much- the lack of work means lack of depth! On the other hand a well worked muscle will have a ton of flavor but if it a locomotive muscle like the round off of the leg; it will yield a weekend’s worth of chewing if not prepared properly. But if you’ve ever had a slow roasted baron of beef sliced thin au jus, then you know what I’m talking about- FLAVOR, FLAVOR, FLAVOR and because prepared properly quite tender, especially for a locomotive muscle.

 

 I don’t want to bash the tenderloin too much, it for sure is not garbage meat but my argument is that the price tag does not match the eating quality. If I’m going to spend the bucks on loin cuts I’ll take a dry aged Hereford or Wagyu rib steak, chuck end thank you! Now I have the best of both worlds- tenderness and flavor.

 

 

If I really want to give filet a run for its money for tenderness then I’ll take a cleaned flat iron steak. This cut is second only to filet for tenderness but is off the shoulder clod which means it exudes flavor because of muscle development.

 

 Now getting into my favorite cuts: the hanger, the outside skirt, the coulotte (top sirloin cap), and the bavette (bottom sirloin flap). All these cuts have relative tenderness but are in my opinion unmatched in flavor, especially the hanger that has an incredibly robust beefiness. All these are exceptional eating at a fraction of the price of tenderloin with a few more chews, but what’s wrong with that?

 

 It’s like the commercials for one of the most popular beers on the planet that boasts low calories and no aftertaste- I believe what is being described is water. When I drink beer I want something with an aftertaste that I almost have to chew. The same is true of my steak; I don’t mind a little chew as long as there is lots of flavor!

 

 

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One response to this post.

  1. Totally agree, with one addition – I think we also get fooled by the fancy French names. Of course, “mignon” means “cute” in French, so if people [men] actually knew, they might switch to beefier cuts out of fear of emasculation. Who knows?

    Not a fan of the filet. I’ve bought it before for events and sliced it up, served with horseradish sauce or something – but you need the sauce or it’s like a nice tender piece of essentially flavorless meat.

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