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Are Bone In Filets really fillets?

Would Bone in Tenderloin be a more accurate name? I'm not loosing sleep over this, just curious why steak houses are calling it a filet when It has a bone.

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  1. Likely because a tenderloin is often called a filet mignon. When you buy a porterhouse, you get 1. a filet; 2. a bone; 3. a filet mignon. It's still the same cut of meat with or without the bone. And for the record, fish filets often have bones. Keep tweezer's handy!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      Duhhhh... The phone has rang too much this morning! That SHOULD read: When you buy a porterhouse you get 1. a filet; 2. a bone; 3. a NY strip steak (aka a Delmonico).

      Thanks, BiscuitBoy. I obviously can't proof read and talk on the phone at the same time. And I do agree that filets are overrated. Well, unless you're doing a beef Wellington when there is no acceptable substitute.

      1. re: Caroline1

        At the risk of taking this thread in a different direction, and recognizing that meat cut terminology differs geographically . . . In this part of the country (Boston area, and I think east coast generally) a Delmonico is a [boneless] ribeye steak.

        1. re: FlyFish

          God, I hope the phone rang and I wasn't boozing the day I wrote this! <sheesh> What I THOUGHT I was saying is obviously that when you buy a Porterhouse, you can "deconstruct" it (to use a popular culinary term that bugs me) and end up with a filet mignon, a nice bone, and a strip steak, aka NY steak, aka Delmonico.

          There. I think I got it right without the phone ringing or a tipple. But a fillet with a bone attached is not a filet until you detach the bone. Until then, it's something akin to a confit of carrots, another current culinary jaborwock that bugs me. '-)

          1. re: Caroline1

            So if you take that Porterhouse, separate off the strip, and maybe trim the bone a bit, what is the proper name for the remainder?

            1. re: Caroline1


              I know how you feel. Sometimes, I almost wish that CH would hold every one of my posts, so I could edit them more closely in the AM. Maybe I should not mix wine tasting and CH postings...

              Maybe I'm just not a butcher, nor do I hang out in steakhouses, as much as other types of restaurants, but I am totally unfamiliar with the concept of "bone-in filets." Since I am a filet-sorta-guy, I am surprised that it's unknown to me. Could it be "regional?"


              1. re: FlyFish

                MIght be wrong about this, but from what i was told, delmonico refers to the type of cut, and can involve more than one type of chop from the tender regions of the cow. What makes a delmonico chop special, that in order to make that cut, it ruins your chances of making other steaks from that area, and isn't cost effective for the sale of the whole side of beef.

                1. re: VJ the singing CHEF

                  Actually, the ORIGINAL Delmonico steak was called that because it was an original creation of Delmonico's restaurant. They did their own butchery, and it was "simply" the "house cut." It was apparently cut from the same part of the carcass as tenderloins, porterhouses and such, and "Steak Delmonico" was on the menu since the first actual restaurant opened in 1830. And by "first actual restaurant," it actually WAS the first "true" restaurant in America. The Delmonico brothers (and family) set the bar for about everything, from the first restaurant (as opposed to pubs and ins that served "standard fare" with one price and one menu fits all) to actually print a menu that listed choices that we have come to call "a la carte," or "from the card," meaning from the menu. Delmonico's was really quite amazing, as in first tablecloths and all sorts of other firsts we now take for granted.

                  Anyway, as for the steak, in 1835, when the then family-member/owner (second generation, as I recall) of the restaurant was challenged by the press for raising the price of the "house cut" Delmonico Signature Steak during a siege of rampant inflation from a pricey but tolerable 75¢ to a whole whopping dollar, his response was that he had had four SHORT LOINS cut into all of the assorted steaks possible (to see precisely what they would make in beef, porterhouse and rib steaks, filets and Chateuabriands"), leaving one to assume that the "beef" must be the house cut. But many still insist the "house cut" Delmonico was a sirloin, and even though butchery has changed radically since the 1830s, there is still no way that a house cut of beef from a short loin would be a sirloin. Ain't gonna happen!

                  But even if we actually knew with certainty the exact spot on a dead cow this steak was cut from, not much chance of duplicating it today. Not only was beef cut differently back then, all upscale beef was dry aged for (usually) longer than three weeks, and the cattle themselves were just "different." Much of what we call "beef" today would have been called "baby beef" back then, meaning it was too old to sell as veal and too young to sell as beef. Ahhhhhh, for the good old days! But we're trying to get back there. Yay, grass-fed! We're getting closer! '-)

          2. "Bone in Filet" sounds like menu-speak marketing magic. There are no bones in a fillet, which is cut from the tenderloin...That's the whole point of it. And I always thought porterhouse was part tenderloin and part strip. IMHO the fillet is an overrated cut.

              1. Please let's move away from the edge of this cliff.

                A marketing Merlin is even now devising a round steak filet, "Cut from Canada Grade A or Better" and rejigging the POS terminals.

                1. I've seen this in some high-end steakhouses, also done with swordfish. Called bone-on fillet, kinda non-fillet fillet !

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cstr

                    Ordered "catfish fillet" once, and was served the backbone, deep-fried. The only meat was that little bit between the bones. When I inquired on what the heck was this about, the reply was, "well, that is the way they do it in the South." Since I am from Mississippi, the land of much of the domestic catfish, and one, who has eaten this dish fomr more years, than the restaurant had been in business, I explained a few things to the server, then the chef and then to the GM. Seems that their fishmonger was pushing these "fillets without fillets" and telling them that this was an old Southern tradition. I ordered something else.

                    In the end, it's all about the marketing, and possibly the level of knowledge of the patrons. Call a Patagonian Toothfish a Chilean Sea Bass and a Slimehead an Orange Roughy, and you have hits.

                    A filet should be a filet. A fillet shoud be a fillet.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Bill, what is your take on fresh/farm raised catfish? I live in Houston and I am lucky enough to subsist on speckled trout, redfish, and flounder that I catch, mainly trout, and a few years ago red snapper until the feds made it prohibitivly expensive to go offshore. Anyway, I prefer a good river cat over farm raised, opinion please, and do throw in some wine suggestions, depending upon cooking, of course.

                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        It's been many years, since I actually caught and cooked my catfish, so I have not been able to do a side-by-side. In my youth, friends and I would catch and sell saltwater "cats" to a few chefs on the Coast. Gaftops always brought us more $. Did a lot of river cats at Lake St. John (was part of the MS River before 1815) Back then, there were no farm-raised catfish, at least to my knowledge. I believe that these came about long after I left the state.

                        I have always had a "thing" for catfish, whether saltwater or fresh and ate, and enjoyed, them all.

                        In the last few decades, I *believe* that all I have had were farm-raised, and when fresh, I've also enjoyed them. I enjoy the slightly "earthy," and "mushroomy" tastes. All that we've had (as I recall) have been pan-fried in a cast iron skillet. I also do not recall having any "line-caught" catfish, when dining on the Coast, or New Orleans.

                        Whether one could tell, if they were doing an A-B tasting, I do not know. I still love the fish, especially as it goes so well with a slightly "earthy" Pinot Noir. I usually look to CA (but not those lovely Santa Rita Hills, or Carneros), WA or OR for domestics, and any number of lower-end red Burgs. A Nuits-Saint-Georges or Gevery-Chambertain are perfect choices, on my palate. Now, if one did a totally different prep, I might look to a white. Maybe a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to add that "squeeze of lemon."

                        I'll look for "line-caught" to refresh my flavor memory, if possible. Still, about once a month, I'll ask my wife for catfish, knowing that they are farm-raised. So long as they are fresh (and I mean freashly delivered here), I enjoy them. Maybe it's the Zatarain's Fish-fry?

                        Now, if only I could revisit my youth for one of Benny's fried flounders. That would be heaven.

                        Sorry to get so off-topic, but the memories just came flooding back, and I have yet to see a "bone-in filet," yet. Still reading and learning.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          I know you make to New Orleans every now and then. Bozo's in Metarie has wild catfish.

                          1. re: James Cristinian

                            I've not tried Bozo's, but have heard really good things about it.



                  2. Although you don't see this cut very often, it's well on its way to becoming a new classic steak, judging from the way it is showing up on leading steakhouse menus and capturing the taste buds of in-the-know steak lovers.

                    What exactly is a bone-in filet? Aren’t filets always boneless, you may ask? Not anymore.

                    Cut a Porterhouse steak in half through the bone and you get a bone-in strip steak and a bone-in filet mignon

                    This is the quintessential cut for those who prefer the tenderness of a filet mignon, but yearn for the added flavor imparted by cooking with the bone intact.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Foodzguy

                      Then CALL IT SOMETHING ELSE!!

                      Okay, sorry about shouting, but words are supposed to mean something, and the word "filet" means a piece of meat that has been cut OFF the bone! No bone! Just meat! Period!

                      Jeeze, am I turning into William F. Buckley in my old age?

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        i have seen this and have been offered to but it from purveyors. I was told that it was "glued" on to a rib bone with trans glutaminates. Took the sample sold it to a 70 yr. old "v.i.p." he loved it and haven't heard of this monstrosity untill today.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Will, keep channeling W.F.B.! I think the same grousing thoughts with the term "semi-boneless." Huh?


                        2. re: Foodzguy

                          I hate to go all old-school, but I remember when a London Broil was a particular way of preparing a flank steak, and I'm still not over the stealing of the name because my folks really did a london broil well.. You start throwing bones into my filet- of whatever, and no amount of wordsmithing is going to keep me from thinking that you're a dilettante. Not that I'm any kind of a food historian so if you don't fool me you're also not fooling a whole lot of way more knowledgeable people than me.

                          1. re: ambrose

                            Filet by definition means boneless. I can understand the marketing urge to keep the name that people associate with tenderness even when leaving the bone attached, but cannot approve of the language abuse. I would use the term "bone-in tenderloin," which keeps the appeal while remaining linguistically correct.

                            1. re: BobB

                              I'd use "bone attached" rather than "bone-in" since the bone is not actually "in" the filet. But truthfully, I would more likely create a method of searing bone and steak side by side rather than attached, oven finish them by putting the bone in a bit before the meat, then put "panties" on the bone and serve them together with a pan sauce with booze. I don't like the idea of a "scarred" filet once the bone is removed.

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                True, "bone attached" is more literally correct, but "bone-in" is by now a pretty standard term and everyone knows what it means in the context of a steak.

                          2. Well then, is a "filet" really a "fillet?"

                            "Filet" in any context I understand is that dinky, little piece of expensive, unused muscle behind the rib cage of any livestock. Any other piece of boned meat is either a boneless roast or a cutlet.

                            A "fillet" is a slab or butterfly of fish flesh separated from its skeleton and other bits of cartilage.

                            I'm with Will Owen - "words are supposed to mean something", so let's give that little beef booger a name.

                            How about: "eye steak?"; "dinky steak?", or "mini-steak?" These are all accurate and descriptive, but lack the levitation to take their notion to a higher price point.

                            As a separate exercise we we should also deal with: "Salmon Loins"; "Chicken Breasts -Loins Removed", and, appallingly, "Steelhead Salmon!"

                            I salute when I encounter, "rib roast" or "rack of (whatever)" with "cap off!," - that deserves attention.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: DockPotato

                              "dinky, little piece of expensive, unused muscle behind the rib cage of any livestock"

                              On a cow that fillet, or tenderloin, is 6-8 lbs. Smaller than other cuts, but not what I'd call dinky.

                              Because of the expense, the whole fillet is often sold in smaller pieces.

                              Joy (97 ed) lists some these pieces as:
                              tenderloin butt end
                              filet steaks, tournedos, filet mignon, small filets

                              Normally this whole tenderloin is cut from the bone, leaving the bones (ribs and backbone) attached to other parts such as the loin, sirloin, rib roasts.

                              The etymology of fillet is traced back to old French for thread.

                              1. In all of my many years on the planet, "beef tenderloin" or "fillet" has meant boneless meat. Someone might be trying to redefine the term, but I wouldn't buy it.

                                1. Just had a nice bone-in-filet. Delicious, the flavor bone-in cooking adds cannot be imitated.
                                  As for the name, stop being such stiffs. The term filet obviously refers to protein separated from the bone. Filet is also the common term for the filet mignon. The term filet has taken on more than your stiff, short sighted, foodie definition of filet. No one is complaining of ribeye v bone-in ribeye because ribeye has only one meaning to a steak lover. It isn't like I hear everyone talking about the latest filet ribeye they ate.

                                  Enjoy your steak and don't forget to season with some sodium

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Meatjello

                                    Boneless is not some effete "foodie" definition of a filet. It is THE definition of filet, period. A filet mignon (often abbreviated to simply filet) is by definition a boneless cut. A ribeye is not - it may or may not be boneless, no argument there.

                                    But hey, you can call anything you want anything you like*. Just don't forget the pepper as well as the salt. ;-)

                                    * "There's glory for you!'
                                    `I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.
                                    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
                                    `But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
                                    `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
                                    - from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass"

                                  2. Lobel's states that bone-in filets are indeed filets.


                                    Interesting tenderloin butchering tutorial showing the treatments given to each of the three main sections - the head, the Chateaubriand and the tail.


                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                      They might as well say, "Is a black-and-white movie devoid of color? Not anymore!" and it would be just as meaningless.

                                      A filet has no bone. Period. And I don't care if James f***ing Beard comes down from heaven and pronounces it so, it;s just not so.

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        At least you are not taking this too seriously.

                                        Would bone-in tenderloin work better?

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          I thoroughly agree with Will.
                                          Makes about as much sense as a Bone-In Scallop.
                                          Some people attempt to rewrite history, others try to re-wire logic.
                                          Filets just got no bones, period.

                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                            Usually no bones in filets, but sometimes I'll screw up and leave a bone in a fish I've caught. Fortunately, I'll get it because I like the thick part, and my wife the tail which I don't leave bones in. A perfect marriage.

                                        2. re: CDouglas

                                          So much for Lobels. This is one of their statements:

                                          "Step 8: From the tail, the first couple of cuts are tournedos – or small tail steaks."

                                          That is dead wrong. Tournedos come from the LARGE end, the Chateaubriand is cut from the center of the tenderloin, and the small (tail) end is cut into filets mignon, which means "little" or "small" (literally "cute" or "dainty") filets. Sheesh! You'd think a butcher shop could get this straight!

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            According the Larousse G (1977 translation), the divsions of the fillet of beef are (starting from the large end):
                                            Beef steak
                                            Fillet Steaks
                                            Filets mignons

                                            and under Tournedos: Small slices taken from the heart of the fillet of beef.
                                            Chateaubriand - 'thick slice taken from the middle of the fillet'

                                            Sounds as though the thickness of the slice is more important than its location along the length of the fillet.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              agreed, my copy of Larousse G says the same thing, as does my meat cutting text from culinary school.

                                          2. re: CDouglas

                                            Lobel's is as much an authority on English usage as Miller ("Lite") is on English spelling.

                                            1. re: BobB

                                              But what determines English usage? Butchers or amateur cooks quoting their French encyclopedias? :)

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I was referring to the statement above (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5606...) that Lobel's declares "bone-in filet" to be a legitimate term. I take no stand on their use of tournedos.

                                                1. re: BobB

                                                  It was a joke folks. I guess I should have thrown in a "if Lobel's says it is so it must be so".

                                                  Funny to see who jumped out and went on the attack. Thanks for that.

                                                  At least a bone-in strip is still a strip. The Kansas City Steak Company said so.