It's even more tender and flavorful when it is Certified USDA Prime. Filet Mignon is located at the smallest end of the beef tenderloin. It is the most tender of steaks because it comes from the part of the beef muscle that never gets exercise.
The long tenderloin portions of beef run along both sides the animal's spine. They each taper from a thick to a thin tail. Although most butchers label all steaks carved from the tenderloin as filet mignon, the actual true filet mignon derives from the thinnest end of the tenderloin.
However, the shape of the true mignon is not conducive to excellent presentation. Therefore most high-end steakhouses serve the thicker end of the beef tenderloin and call it Filet Mignon. The entire tenderloin is the most tender of beef and although the filet mignon is slightly more tender than the rest, the tenderness is almost indistinguishable.
That's why the taller "barrel cut filet" from the wider-end of the tenderloin is served by most restaurants, It simply makes a superior presentation while still featuring ultra tenderness that melts in you mouth.
Upscale steakhouses buy the entire whole tenderloin, hand-trim to perfection and cut the filets in various weight options 6, 8, 10 and 12 ounce options. It is interesting to note the average beef will only produce about 4 to 6 pounds of true file mignon.
In America, both restaurants, supermarkets and butchers sell the central and large ends of the tenderloin as filet mignon. The Fench call the central portions of the tenderloin "tournedos" and refer to the larger central portions of the tenderloin as "chateaubriand".
For best results, the tenderloin steaks should be quickly seared on each side at intense heat to seal its natural juices. Then should be transferred to lower heat to continue cooking until desired the desired temperature is achieved.
Filets are more lean and have less marbling than other cuts from the loin, but still maintain delightful tenderness. Many restaurants will wrap bacon around the filet which add both flavor and moistness. Since filets are tall-cuts, they are difficult to cook well-done with butterflying.
The filet tenderloin is arguably the most desirable cut of steak.