The tenderloin is the most tender of beef cuts. It also has little fat marbling which makes it a favorite of those that love steak but yet watch their consumption of fat. Surprising to most, a tenderloin steak has less fat than the equivalent weight of a chicken thigh. If you’re watching your weight but have a craving for a tender steak, the filet is the perfect choice.
Where The Tenderloin Is Located
The tenderloin has an oblong shape that spans into both the “short loin” and “sirloin” sections of cattle. It sits beneath the ribs next to beefs’ backbone. The long tubular beef tenderloin tapers from a thick end to a thin end. There are three main parts including the “butt”(thick end), the “center cut” (middle), and the “tail” (thinnest).
The best steakhouses typically serve filet steaks cut from the center of the tenderloin since it is the longest portion with a diameter that is most conducive to well-presented steaks of consistent size. Any cut of beef is essentially a muscle and Its degree of tenderness is directly related to the amount of exercise a particular muscle gets. Since the location of the tenderloin almost runs parallel to the backbone, it gets the least exercise of any other muscle.
It is interesting to note that both the T-bone and Porterhouse are cut from the short loin section of beef. Since the tenderloin extends into the short loin section, the T-bone and Porterhouse Steaks include a piece of tenderloin filet. The T-shaped bone separates the filet and a New York strip.
The Tenderloin Is Known By Many Names
Over the course of history there have been many names thrown around describing the Filet Tenderloin. Names for cuts of streak are different in the US versus other parts of the world. Even in America, butcher shops, grocery stores and restaurants call the tenderloin by differing names. Among those are “Filet of Tenderloin”, “Filet Steak”, “Filet Mignon”, “Tenderloin Steak”, “Tournedos”, Filet Medallions” and even “Chateaubriand”.
Today, most butcher shops, grocery stores and restaurants refer to the entire tenderloin as “File Mignon”even though the true filet Mignon is the thinnest tail portion of the tenderloin. Regardless of name, expect any steak cut from the tenderloin to the most tender of beef, particularly when graded as USDA Prime.
Steak Cooking Temperature Chart
Temperatures indicated in Fahrenheit.
120 Degrees. Rare. Cool red throughout.
130 Degrees. Medium Rare. Warm red center.
140 Degrees. Medium. Pink with a slightly warm center.
150 Degrees. Medium Well. Slightly Pink.
160 Degrees. Well Done. No pink at all.