You see, tenderloin steaks, A.K.A. filet mignon, is cut from the two small muscles that run on along the back half of the inside edge of the cow's spine. They are, as the name implies, extremely tender. They are also the most expensive cut of beef in the supermarket. You don't want to mess these guys up.
The difficulty in cooking them lies in the fact that they contain very little intramuscular fat. As a result, they are relatively flavorless. Less fat also means less insulation from heat penetration, and thus a much higher chance of overcooking.
Sous-vide solves all these problems. By cooking the steak in a vacuum-sealed bag in a water bath, you can absolutely guarantee even cooking from edge to edge, and added flavorings keep the meat tasty. I like the simple combination of black pepper and thyme, but feel free to experiment with more elaborate combinations to suit your own whimsy.
FYI: these are fantastic with Perfect Thin and Crispy French Fries.
Editor's Note: This recipe is part of our ongoing series on sous-vide cooking. Follow the link for more details on the process.
- One 1 1/2-pound center cut beef tenderloin (chateubriand), trimmed of all silverskin
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 7 tablepsoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 garlic clove, minced or grated on a microplane
- 1 teaspoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
Using sharp chef's knife or slicing knife, cut tenderloin into four even 6-ounce portions. Place each portion cut-side down on the cutting board and flatten gently with your hand to an approximate two-inch thickness. Season generously with salt and pepper, then place in vacuum bag with thyme sprigs. Seal bag, and place in water oven preheated to 130°F for medium rare, or 140°F for medium. Cook for at least 45 minutes, and up to 4 hours.
Meanwhile, combine 6 tablespoons of butter, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and beat with a fork until homogeneous. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When ready to cook steaks, remove from bags, and dry carefully on paper towels. Melt remaining tablespoon butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over high heat until butter is browned and beginning to smoke lightly. Add steaks and cook until well-browned on first side, about 1 minute. Flip steaks and brown on second side, about 1-minute longer. Transfer steaks to paper towel-lined plate, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest at least 1 minute, and up to 5 minutes. Top each steak with a dollop of parsley butter and serve.
vacuum sealer, water oven