Everything You Need To Know About Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

In honor of National Filet Mignon Day, we thought we’d round out some of the most interesting facts about this deliciously tender cut of meat while honoring its rich history. If you’re looking for tips and tricks for selecting and cooking this globally popular cut, head on over to our blog, “How to Select and Cook Beef Tenderloin.” If you’re looking to get your hands on a few filets this August 13th we suggest you duck into your local butcher or meat shop. These venues offer the freshest cuts while providing customers with cooking tips and tricks. Plus if you’re really lucky they may even cut the meat right in front of you. 

Filet Mignon Facts

medium rare filet mignon

Some people might say that “filet mignon” is just a fancy name for beef tenderloin but mignon translates into English as “small” “dainty” and “cute.” Filet simply translates as boneless meat. But enough about all the cutesy stuff. Here are some hard, strong facts about the meat we know and love. 

1. Filet Mignon Earned Its Reputation From Literary Sources

Yep, it’s true. William Sydney Porter whose pen name is O. Henry has been deemed the first person to use the word filet mignon in his 1906 published work, “The Four Million.” This collection of short stories references the cut, “filet mignon with champignons” and oysters of course! If you’re curious to see for yourself, pick up a copy and flip to page 64. 

2. When In France Don’t Order A Filet Mignon

Seriously. If you order filet mignon while dining in France you’ll end up with the tenderloin of a pig. If you’re craving this scrumptious, delectable cut of beef while abroad it’s best to order a Tournedo. It’s as simple as saying, “Puis-je s’il vous plaît obtenir un tournedo?”

3. Movie Popcorn Is More Expensive Than Filet Mignon

Weird, right? But it’s true. Ounce for ounce filet mignon is cheaper than the buttery puffs of exploded corn kernel we pay an arm and a leg for. We don’t recommend using this as a negotiating tactic the next time you visit your local butcher or meat market. 

Why Is Filet Mignon So Tender?

Taken from the smallest end of the tenderloin, filet mignon is a muscle that practically does nothing; hence the tenderness. Think of it as the foreman on a construction site. The tenderloin has three parts. The head which connects to the sirloin muscle, the body or barrel sits at the center of the tenderloin and the tail, which is triangular in shape. The tail is where the filet mignon comes from. 

Why Do We Pay More For Filet Mignon? 

Aside from its desirable tenderness, filet mignon is a rare cut of beef. Let’s say it’s exclusive. On average, heifers and steers only produce 500 grams in total of filet mignon. One could also argue that filet mignon has also built a reputation, and a good one. We pay more for the things we value and we value filet mignon. 

What To Look For In A Filet Mignon

If you’re going the route of your local supermarket you’ll want to aim for USDA Prime cuts of tenderloin. The USDA grades cuts of meat and plugs them into three categories. Prime cuts provide abundant marbling (flavor and tenderness) and are the product of young, well-fed cattle. It’s the top two percent of meat. If you’re looking to treat yourself, consider purchasing cut-with-a-fork Japanese Wagyu beef. 

What you’re looking for in a tenderloin is thickness, marbling and color. Now of course thickness is up to you — if you prefer your tenderloin on medium- medium-well side you may opt for a thinner cut but we recommend filets that are at least two inches thick. Our preference is a medium-rare filet so a steak that’s three inches thick is ideal. 

While tenderloin features much less marbling than other cuts you should look for some marbling. The small streaks of intramuscular fat (marbling) packs a flavorful punch. With or without marbling your filet is sure to be tender. That last characteristic to keep an eye out for is color and this really goes with all cuts of meat. Unless the steak has been intentionally dry-aged (which is delicious) the cut should be uniformly dark pink/red in color. 

Filet Mignon


Filet mignon has a rich history and it’s been prized the world over for its tenderness, texture and plate appeal. Plus, it’s a great dish for any season and pairs well with almost anything! If you’re on the hunt for a delicious cut of beef tenderloin this National Filet Mignon Day be sure to visit the Lady Jaye Meat Shop.

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