Why Filet Mignon Makes the Tastiest Beef Jerky
“Nothing could make me pull away, meat-market love goddess. My sexy little filet mignon.”
–John Corwin, author
Most of us have heard of filet mignon and know it’s a prime cut of beef. But what exactly makes it so delectable, and thus so highly regarded? Let’s explore.
Loosely translated as “dainty filet” or “tender filet” in French, filet mignon is cut from the smaller end of a steer’s tenderloin, the most tender cut of beef. Filet mignon has a deliciously buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture and is so supple it can often be cut with a fork.
We’ll examine this choice cut of beef in more detail, including why it’s so popular, its nutritional content (busting some myths and misconceptions about red meat along the way), and, most importantly, we’ll highlight why filet mignon makes not just good but outstanding beef jerky. We’ll even get a little adventurous, exploring wine-and-jerky and beer-and-jerky pairings, for the connoisseurs among us.
Red Meat: Friend or Foe?
There’s been a lot of talk in the last decade or so about the artery-clogging dangers of red meat. While there’s little argument that a diet of fast food burgers and high-fructose corn syrup-laden beverages is a recipe for trouble, it stands to reason that eating fast food burgers made from the fattiest cuts of meat isn’t the same as eating a lean cut of meat once or twice a week. Like most things in life, moderation is key.
Lean red meat is loaded with nutrients; a 3-ounce serving of filet mignon has:
- 23 grams of protein, essential for building and repairing tissues
- Iron, essential for carrying oxygenated blood to tissues and organs
- Several B vitamins, including B12, essential for blood cell production and a healthy nervous system.
- Fat, an essential source of energy and fatty acids
- Selenium, which helps reduce the risk of colon cancer
- Zinc, which prevents damage to blood vessel walls, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)
But What About Calories?
Calories matter, for sure, but the quality of calories matters even more. While the mantra has long been “a calorie is a calorie,” our understanding of nutrition is evolving. Many experts today believe a calorie is not just a calorie, since the body doesn’t process all calories in the same way.
Take the ubiquitous and increasingly-scrutinized high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Despite messages to the contrary by the corn grower associations, the medical and scientific communities have established that the body processes HFCS differently than other sweeteners like plain table sugar. HFCS has been associated with obesity to a much greater degree than other forms of sugar.
The point? The quality of calories matters. Filet mignon, like virtually all foods, has calories (around 185 in a 3-ounce serving), but they are quality calories.
Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk jerky!
If the thought of beef jerky conjures up images of Slim Jims and dried out sheets of convenience store jerky from the bulk bin, it’s time for an education.
When it comes to outstanding beef jerky, filet mignon is where it’s at. Don’t risk breaking a tooth struggling with a slab of tough, leathery jerky made from meat of questionable origin. Jerky made with filet mignon, like the flavorful concoctions made by Three Jerks Jerky, is tender and delicious—no dentist visit required.
For the Wine and Beer Snobs
If you’re going to eat a high caliber jerky made of tender filet mignon, you’ll need something equally classy to wash it down. Many of us know that red wine generally pairs well with beef. Wine snobs know there’s more to it than that. The scrumptiousness of filet mignon demands an equally scrumptious wine (or beer). Furthermore, a pairing will need to be bold enough to stand up to the flavors of filet mignon, yet delicate enough not to overpower the subtleties in the meat. Let’s look at some wine-jerky and beer-jerky pairings.
- Try Pine Ridge 2005 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, with its cinnamon, berry, and mocha aromas. Beautifully complements a peppery filet mignon.
- Another option: pair filet mignon with Chateau Montelena Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, with its notes of strawberry, rhubarb, and vanilla, followed by allspice, bay laurel, and lavender.
- An imperial stout with dark, malty characteristics pairs nicely with filet mignon jerky. Try Yeti by Third Great Divide Brewing Co. The roasty malt flavor that give way to rich caramel and toffee notes complements without detracting from the delicate flavor of the meat.
- The hoppiness of an IPA also pairs nicely with filet. Try Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point Brewing Company. The inspired use of hops creates hints of apricot, peach, mango, and lemon flavors to make a complex beverage pairing.
Filet mignon is a much beloved cut of meat, especially in French cuisine. There are myriad ways to prepare it, from pan-searing to roasting. A popular method of preparation is wrapping the filet in bacon, since the tenderloin is a relatively low-fat cut of meat, and bacon gives it more richness of flavor.
Keep in mind that cooking is a science, and preparing a great filet mignon is no exception. It’s important to understand the chemical reactions that happen during cooking in order to avoid overcooking, undercooking, or drying out the meat, try cooking sous-vide as explained in this recipe.
Here are a few filet mignon recipes to try your hand at:
Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Madeira
It’s hard to go wrong with a wine sauce. Sautéed mushrooms, butter, and cream in a Madeira wine reduction give this dish a sinful richness. Get the recipe on Epicurious.
Grilled Spicy Filet Mignon Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing
Fresh and light, this salad-au-filet-mignon recipe courtesy of Food Network’s Bobby Flay is a bright way to serve up beef tenderloin. Perfect for a summer afternoon. Get the recipe.
Filet Mignon with Rich Balsamic Glaze
With nearly 5-star average reviews on allrecipes.com, this recipe of a filet mignon steak in a red wine and balsamic vinegar reduction, and served with potatoes and green beans, promises to be a great date night meal.
If English cucumbers sound like exotic vegetables and your stove collects cobwebs from infrequent use (i.e. cooking ain’t your thing), you can get the delicious goodness of filet mignon in jerky form! Three Jerks Jerky has crafted a handful of bold jerky flavors, packaged for your convenience in highly-portable, flavor-sealed pouches. Check out all the delish flavors, including our newest contrivance, maple bourbon churro jerky—you won’t be sorry you did.