What’s the best use for ground filet mignon? For that matter, is it a good idea to grind the filet in the first place? The answers might surprise you, even if you think you know all there is to know about good steak.
Ground Filet Mignon
Filet mignon is a high-end cut that’s not usually given the grinding treatment, as it’s already tender enough on its own. But some retailers do sell pre-made burgers made from the finest filet, and you can grind it yourself at home if you have the right equipment.
About Filet Mignon
The filet mignon steak is cut from the tenderloin, the cylinder-shaped cut that runs through the middle of the loin primal. This section is located along the top of the spine, which doesn’t see a lot of movement during the animal’s lifespan.
As such, the tenderloin—and therefore the filet—has the softest, most buttery texture of any cut on the steer. It’s also very lean, which contributes to its mild flavor.
Though some chefs decry the tenderloin’s lack of flavor, the cut improves considerably when you grill it over an open flame. The contrast of crisp crust and tender exterior combine to create a delightful exercise in steak eating.
About Ground Beef
This is one of those self-explanatory terms that pop up every so often when you’re learning your ingredients.
Ground beef is simply beef that’s been fed through a grinder until it has a soft, malleable texture. It’s often used to form hamburgers, meatballs, and meat loaf, but the possibilities are numerous—and incredibly tasty.
Since filet mignon has a tender texture to begin with, you might think that it would be a superb base for ground beef. The reality, however, is more complicated.
Filet mignon is an expensive cut—usually priced at $20 to $30 per pound. Given that price point, most chefs will think twice about putting the beef through the grinder.
On a related note, a perfectly grilled filet mignon is such a tempting dish that we would be hard-pressed to “waste” the meat by mincing it. The meat is best served rare to medium-rare, but ground beef should be cooked thoroughly (more on that later).
So, is ground filet mignon a good idea? As long as you don’t mind spending the extra money on steak you’re planning to grind up, it’s fine. The meat retains its mild flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture—it’s just suited for different cooking applications.
A Word about Safe Cooking Temperatures
As we mentioned, filet mignon is a steak that’s best served rare, or perhaps medium-rare. That means it should be cooked to 120-135 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum flavor and texture.
But why is it safe to eat steak cooked to such a low temperature? After all, the USDA recommends cooking poultry to an internal temp of at least 165 degrees in order to destroy potentially hazardous bacteria. Wouldn’t the same rules apply to steak?
In fact, it’s safe to eat beef cooked to rare temps because the flesh is denser. The bacteria that cause food poisoning linger on the surface. Since beef is more dense than poultry, the bacteria can’t penetrate as deeply.
Conversely, with chicken or turkey, those bacteria can burrow into the flesh. Only by exposing the meat to high temperatures can you ensure that the pathogens will be eradicated.
It’s important to understand that while it’s safe to eat rare steak, you should cook all ground meat thoroughly. That applies to ground beef, including filet mignon, as well as poultry. Here’s why.
Any harmful bacteria that might be present on the surface of the flesh will be all mixed in with the rest of the meat. Therefore, you’ll have to cook the ground beef all the way through in order to be safe.
You might be able to get around this if you buy a cut of tenderloin and grind it up yourself after cutting away the exterior. The trouble is, tenderloin fetches such a steep per-pound price that you’d be throwing a lot of money away by doing this.
Can You Buy Ground Filet Mignon?
Some reputable retailers, such as Omaha Steaks, sell filet mignon in ground or minced form. It’s more expensive than regular ground beef, but that’s not surprising when you consider how much tenderloin costs anyway.
If you want to try using ground filet mignon in your next burger or meatball recipe (see below), we would suggest making it yourself. It’s easy to do even if you don’t own a meat grinder, and you’ll have more control over the consistency and quality of the product.
How To Grind Filet Mignon at Home
Every true carnivore should invest in a meat grinder. It will give you greater control over the quality of your dishes, and it will save you money in the long run.
If you don’t yet have a meat grinder in your kitchen arsenal, you can use a food processor instead. Know that the meat will have more of a paste-like consistency in this case, rather than the skinny tube-like concoction you’re used to seeing in the store.
Before grinding meat, freeze it slightly so that it won’t gum up the grinder. This will make it easier to cut into small pieces, too.
Start with as much tenderloin as you’d like. We would suggest grinding just 1 pound at first so you can get a feel for the technique. Remember that if you want to cook the beef to a temperature below 165 degrees, you’ll have to trim away the exterior.
Freeze the meat for about 20 minutes, then cut it into strips. Include as much of the fat as you’d like. Since tenderloin is naturally lean, you might want to add some extra beef fat trimmings if you have any on hand.
The ideal meat-to-fat ratio for ground beef is 85 to 15. If you prefer a leaner mixture, use a ratio of 90 percent beef to 10 percent fat. For a juicier burger, add 80 percent beef to 20 percent fat.
Use the medium grinder plate to process the filet mignon. If you’re using a food processor, add the meat in batches to avoid turning it into mush.
Once the meat is ground, use it in whatever recipe you prefer.
Since filet mignon is so pricey, we like to keep it simple. Mix 1 pound of ground filet with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Form into patties and grill to your liking.
You can use this mixture to make delicious meatballs as well. Use a tablespoon to form the meat into uniform-sized balls, then bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to drown them in sauce—just drizzle them with the pan juices, perhaps deglazing the pan with a splash of dry sherry.
You can substitute the ground filet for ground chuck in meat loaf or any other recipe you prefer. However, we would caution against adding too many ingredients, as that would mask the filet’s best qualities.
The Bottom Line
Most of the time, it’s not worth the money or effort to grind filet mignon. The steak is superb when you leave it whole. But if you’d like to experiment with high-quality ground beef, it might be worth a try.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!