Filet mignon is one of the most prized cuts of steak. Carnivores everywhere enjoy cutting into this very tender cut of meat, which falls apart at the touch of the fork when cooked by the best chefs.
It is also one of the priciest cuts of meat, so when home chefs splurge for it, they want to get it right. Many people think filet mignon requires constant attention and a painstaking cooking process.
However, it is possible to make filet mignon just using the oven. Although most steak-baking methods require you to sear the steaks first on a stovetop, you can skip this step and still have a delicious filet mignon for dinner. Nobody needs to know about your shortcut.
Why Do People Sear Steaks, Anyway?
When you sear a steak, you cook it at a very high temperature for a short period. Usually, you sear meat on a stovetop or grill before allowing it to cook at a lower temperature until it is done.
Many people think that searing is done to help the cut retain its moisture. However, searing actually dries out a cut of meat.
The real reason why people sear cuts of meat such as filet mignon is to build flavor. Cooking food at a very high temperature creates a crust around the exterior that retains more flavor and adds a more interesting texture to the meal.
That does not mean that you will be giving up flavor altogether if you decide to skip the searing process. There are other ways to build a flavorful crust around your meat without bothering to sear it on the stovetop, such as the ones listed below.
If you want to cook filet mignon or any steak in the oven, there are a few pieces of equipment that you will need.
You need a cut of filet mignon, which you can get from your local supermarket or a butcher shop if you’re feeling fancy. To ensure that you are getting a quality cut of filet mignon, see that the color is a consistent pink or red throughout the meat and that you can see a few streaks of fat but not too many.
You also need an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron, to cook the steak. Skillets are better than grill pans or baking sheets for thicker cuts of steak such as filet mignon because they distribute heat evenly across the meat.
Finally, if you cook steak frequently, you may want to invest in a meat thermometer with a probe that can go into your meat and tell you its temperature. While there are other ways to make sure that your meat is cooked, using a meat thermometer is the most accurate.
Preparing Your Steak
You can increase your likelihood of a successful filet mignon dinner before it even goes into the oven if you take the right steps to prepare.
Let your steak warm up to room temperature, and pat away any condensation. This will allow for a more even distribution of heat as your steak cooks and helps the meat retain internal moisture.
While your steak comes up to room temperature, you should also preheat your oven so that it is ready for the steak. Depending on the method you are using, you will also need to preheat your broiler or even the pan that you cook the steak in.
Finally, season the steak before putting it in the oven. Filet mignon needs generous seasoning because it has so little fat to help it retain flavor. Pat your steak’s top and bottom with large amounts of salt and pepper to ensure a great flavor once you’re done.
Using the Broiler
One method of mimicking the thick crust formed by a sear on a filet mignon using only the oven is to use the broiler.
A broiler is an attachment in your oven that mimics a grill or sear by providing direct heat to food. Some ovens have a separate broiling drawer, but most newer ones have the broiler at the top.
To prepare your steaks using the broiler, make sure to preheat your broiler just as you would preheat the oven. Then, place your filet mignon as close to the broiler as possible for a few minutes on each side.
You’ll know that your filet mignon is done broiling when you see a browned crust on each side. Then, finish off your steak at a low temperature in the oven until the inside is cooked.
“Searing” Without Searing
The broiler method is easy since it only requires you to turn on an attachment that is already in the oven. However, it does not always work as well on filet mignon as it does on thinner cuts of meat and can cook your filet mignon too much if you’re not careful.
Another way of creating the desired crust on your filet mignon is to mimic the effects of searing without actually turning on your stovetop. You can do this using a cast-iron skillet.
To get a thick crust on your filet mignon, your skillet needs to be as hot as possible. As you’re preheating the oven, put the empty skillet in the oven as well so that it gets hot.
Once your steak and skillet are ready, take the skillet out of the oven and put the steaks in for a few minutes on each side. The residual heat from the skillet will create a thick crust that’s similar to what you would accomplish by searing without ever turning on the stovetop.
Once your filet mignon has a flavorful crust, put it back into the oven to cook for a few minutes until the interior is done to your desired temperature.
Tips for Making the Best Filet Mignon
Here are a few additional tips to get the perfect cut of filet mignon, with or without searing it.
Once your meat is done, give it a few minutes to rest before serving. This allows the juices to settle and improves the flavor of the meat.
Most people season filet mignon with only salt and pepper to allow the tenderness of the meat to shine through. However, a little butter and herbs can take your dinner to the next level.
Finally, the key to a top-notch filet mignon dinner is the quality of your meat. Make sure that you get the best filet mignon cut possible.
Can You Have Delicious Filet Mignon Without Searing it?
Maybe your stovetop is not working, or you just don’t want to add extra steps to your dinner routine. That does not mean you are doomed to a flavorless, tough steak.
There are other ways to get the flavorful crust searing brings out on a crust of meat. You can use your oven’s broiler or mimic the effect of searing without direct heat by using a preheated cast-iron skillet.
Whichever method you choose to use, make sure to pick the best cut of meat, season your steak, and keep a careful eye on your filet mignon to make sure it does not get overcooked. You can have a delicious steak dinner in no time, using just your oven.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.