A seared filet mignon is, without a doubt the most tender of the steaks. It’s cut from the beef tenderloin. A muscle that runs along the back of the cow, which does very little work (relative to the rest of the cow), and that is what makes it so tender.
It is also among the most lean cuts of beef, with very little inter-muscular fat or connective tissue. That lack of fat means two very important things. First, a more mild flavor; delicious, but nothing that’s going to blow your socks off. And second, a proclivity to feel a bit dry while eating.
Fortunately, both of those issues can be greatly improved with the addition of a filet mignon sauce aka, a steak sauce.
Now, if you must, you can break out the A1. But you’d be committing a terrible sin. However wonderful, that alpha-numeric sauce may be, if you’re going to pay the big bucks for a prime piece of filet mignon, learn how to cook it perfectly, then I’d really suggest that you take a bit of extra time, to come up with an equally perfect sauce.
Below are some of my favorite steak sauces, which work particularly well with filet. Some are very simple. Some a bit more complex. Take note, that one thing almost all of my filet mignon sauces have in common, is a good amount of fat. As I mentioned above, since filet is so lean, it benefits from a bit of fat, like butter or cream. Leave the more acidic/tangy steak sauces for the fatty cuts, like ribeye.
Best Sauces for Filet Mignon
Perhaps the most traditional sauce for a filet and a stable for French cooking. I like to use very coarsely crushed black peppercorns, cooked with a bit of shallot and cognac, and then finished with some cream.
Another French sauce, béarnaise has shallots and tarragon as its main flavor components, which are then turned into a thick creamy sauce with the addition of egg yolk and butter. If I don’t have the time to make the real deal, I “cheat” a bit by making a simple tarragon butter.
Maitre ‘d butters got very popular in the 80’s. They are a simple combination of butter and “something”. In this case, I finely chop some rosemary and mix it with the butter. Slathering some on a just-cooked filet mignon, letting it melt all over as the steak rests, is a terrific way to add flavor.
There are a few different ways to add blue cheese to a filet. The salty, tangy, fatti-ness of the cheese matches perfectly with the lean meat flavors. I usually mix a bit of butter and blue cheese together and allow it to melt onto the steak after cooking, but making a sauce with some cream, or adding some bread crumbs and making a topping during the last few minutes of cooking are also great options.
Bordelaise – Red Wine Sauce
Red wine & filet mignon go wonderfully well together. So a sauce with a good Bordeaux (cabernet and/or merlot grapes) at its heart is a perfect match. For this sauce, reduce a cabernet based wine with some good beef stock and shallots. Finish with some fresh butter to thicken. Awesome!