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May 23, 2010 03:45 PM

Why is filet mignon(beef tenderloin) so expensive.

Yes, it's tender, but that's about all that it has going for it. Too tender for my taste.

Also, it's certainly not the most flavorful cut. Why do you think it's often wrapped in bacon, or schmeared with liver pate and baked in a pastry crust(Wellington)?

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  1. I know!!!

    I think it's nothing more than demand. People think it's special so it's priced accordingly.

    Now maybe I am being rude here but I think a lot of people have terrible palates and like lean and tasteless. A lot of these same people also can't cook, so if they go from dry overcooked lean and tasteless to having a very tender piece of lean and tasteless, especially in a restaurant on valentine's day, it becomes very special in their minds...


    3 Replies
      1. re: hillsbilly

        Yup, completely agree. For some reason many people are afraid of fat in their meat.

        Other than demand, the relatively small size in comparison other cuts may have something to do with it.

        1. re: hillsbilly

          ..."I think a lot of people have terrible palates and like lean and tasteless."

          Kind of like how the masses buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts - yuck! I'll take a juicy, flavorful chicken thigh over a breast any day.

        2. It's also easy to work with. The long cylinder of meat is easy to portion out and you don't have to worry about complications like bones or tendons. Maybe that's not a big deal for an experienced cook, but a beginner might find it a big help.

          Don't count me as a tenderloin hater, I think it's a delicious cut of meat.

          1. I'm with others. Fillet is expensive because it's a small part of the animal and because of the demand by many people for tendererness.

            1. Well, for openers, there's only ONE tenderlooin per beastie! But using that criteria, think of how expenisve brains and tails should be?

              It was the era of classic cuisine under the guiding hands of great great chefs such as Careme and Escoffier that put filets, tournedos, and chateaubriand at the top of the page on meat prices. But they NEVER served these cuts of meats plain and unembelished, or wrapped in bacon, as we do today.

              For example, a classic haute cuisine dish is tournedos Rossini, in which the tournedo (cut from the large end of the tenderloin) is served atop a butter toasted bread round (crouton) the size of the steak, then topped with the rare-to-medium-rare rested steak, which is then topped with a slice of richest possible foie gras lightly sauteed, then that is topped with a slice of black Perigourd winter truffle, then served with sauce Perigourdine. Oh, and ALWAYS done with prime prime prime dry aged beef! The crouton absorbs the juices as the steak is cut, and it is simply an incredible taste experience.

              For cooking a steak "the American way," I agree. Tenderloin is a waste of money. But for tournedos Rossini, you just can't get better than that.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Caroline1

                Unless I have lost my mind there are 2 tenders per beast, there is just one hanging tender, or onglet, per animal.

                1. re: steamer

                  You are absolutely right.... TWO tenderloins, TWO ears, One brain and ONE tail per beastie. Thanks for catching my goof. It proves I don't think well at three in the morning. Yay insomnia! '-)

                2. re: Caroline1

                  Steak doesnt appear too often in our house, but Mrs H does occasionally do filet de boeuf a la Avignonese which also has the fillet sat on a garlic rubbed crouton. The meat is fried in butter than flambeed in brandy. Meat onto the bread, drizzle of sauce over it. Simples!

                  1. re: Harters

                    I used to do something very close on a regular basis back in the days when dry aged beef was the ONLY show in town! DEEEE-licious!!!

                  2. re: Caroline1

                    The French were not using dry-aged grain fed beef in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries or even raising many cattle for use as beef unlike the English or Scots. Unneeded calves were slaughtered for veal while beef came primarily from older milking/breeding stock or draft oxen. The classic dishes used fillets because it was the only tender cut on a superannuated cow. The fillet from an old cow has more flavor than the fillet from a young prime steer but is very nearly as tender.

                    1. re: Eldon Kreider

                      I doubt if we Brits were particularly raising separate dairy & beef cattle in the 18th & 19th centuries. I think of it as much more a modern feature of farming as transport, marketing and food preservation developed. Food rationing during WW2 was a significant factor in developing a dairy industry

                      1. re: Harters

                        A lot of today's beef and dairy breeds go back that far in the UK. Ayrshire, Guernsey and Jersey as dairy breeds were stabilized by 1800. The predominant beef breeds in the northern United States (Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn) were brought over in 1850, 1850 and 1783 respectively as beef breeds although dual-purpose shorthorns were developed later. What the UK had was a lot of dual-purpose heritage breeds that are now somewhat endangered. Beef and to a lesser extent dual-purpose breeds tend to produce milk for only four to six months after calving unlike dairy breeds that are good for nine to ten months of production.

                      2. re: Eldon Kreider

                        I didn't say a word about "grain fed" and if beef was aged at all in those days, dry aging was the ONLY method available. Wet aging is a late 20th century abomination. Both Careme and Escoffier did a lot of cooking in GB. My great grandfather (I'm now 76, so it was a loooooong time ago!) was a butcher in Jolly Olde, and he aged some of his beef until he had to srape the maggots off theoutside. Refrigeration then was not the most advanced. But according to my grandmother, that beef was for special customers, with a bit reserved for the family.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          It is virtually impossible to get enough marbling to have prime beef without finishing with grain. Most prime beef in the United States today would have graded choice 50 years ago before the grading standard were lowered.

                          1. re: Eldon Kreider

                            Excuse me, sir, but we're talking about TENDERLOIN! Not THAT much marbeling in USDA Prime 50 years ago, because 50 years ago USDA Prime tnederloin is what I used for tournedos. You seem to be all over the place splitting hairs over things I didn't say... '-)

                      3. re: Caroline1

                        thanks. i drooled on the keyboard.

                      4. Not my favorite cut either.

                        But beyond the reasons that have already been stated, I'd like to point out that it is probably the best cut for holding up to being cooked medium well or well done. There are a lot of people who like their steaks overcooked.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Hmm... I think I need to disagree with with offering the tenderloin as the best cut for holding up for overcooking -- I'd actually say that the complete oposite was true. Almost completely lacking in fat to keep a moist feeling, tenderloins overcook VERY easily, and should never be done beyond medium. Did you mistype?

                          1. re: mateo21

                            No mistyping. You're right that filets overcook easily. And I agree that they are best medium and below. That's not the same as saying they hold up worse to overcooking.

                            Try it sometime - compare a ribeye or sirloin or skirt steak or flank steak (strip steak arguably holds up as well to overcooking as filet) grilled medium well to a filet cooked medium well. I'm sure neither will be to your liking, but the filet will be noticeably more tender. And while that increased tenderness is not as big of a deal (to me at least) when both are cooked medium rare, at medium-well it makes the difference between a steak that is merely overdone and one that is unpalatably leathery.

                            I understand that the higher fat content of other cuts can lubricate meat, so I don't know why it's true. But after years of finishing off other people's plates, my palate tells me it is.

                            Additionally, filet is more often served with a sauce that can partially mask overdone-ness in a steak.