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Old 06-13-2007, 08:46 AM   #1
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ISO Help With Tonight's Filet Mignon

Hey guys. I am cooking for friends, and compared to them, thanks to you all here, im an experienced chef. im cooking up some prime filet mignon, but the thing is, i don't know their stove. MED HIGH over there will not be like MED HIGH over here.

I know there is some way to tell how hot a skillet is to cook a filet, with droplets of water. im using my method of searing for 2 mins then finishing in the oven.

How does a drop of water appear in a steel skillet that is ready to sear a 2" filet mignon?

I really don't want to blow this guys. I want to do a great job.

Any other methods to find out how hot to make it?

thanks so much in advance.

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Old 06-13-2007, 09:12 AM   #2
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the water droplets will do a merry little dance all over the skillet bottom if it's hot - plus you should almost be able to smell the hotness. Good luck - it's tricky trying to cook on someone else's stove!
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Old 06-13-2007, 09:15 AM   #3
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so what will happen if it's too hot?
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Old 06-13-2007, 09:21 AM   #4
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you might burn the surfaces, but that's pretty tough to do on a consumer stove top, and if the meat has nothing more than s&p on it, and if you're checking it regularly (but not completely lifting it until it's seared).

besides, too hot is easy to correct. just turn down the heat a little.

if the stove tops burners suck, i would go with the broiler at first, then into a baking dish, or better yet, a cast iron grill pan in the oven.
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Old 06-13-2007, 09:55 AM   #5
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Don't be so worried. The pan will cool a little when the meat goes in. At that point you'll know if it's too hot or not. Maybe a 3-4 count would be a good rule of thumb.
Is it a full loin or fist sized pieces? Smaller single portions don't need to be put in the oven. A med med-high searing will cook those through. Oil and season the outside of the loin. Make sure it's at room temperature before you start cooking it. You may want to bring your own pan if you are more comfortable with it. I find the biggest issue cooking a meal in another kitchen are the pans and knives. Also, tie up the loin with butchers twine to keep it nice and round. When it's ready for the oven you could throw some whole galic cloves and sprigs of fresh thyme in the pan. While the meat rests, make a red wine reduction pan sauce....and give me their address.
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:03 AM   #6
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I cook 6oz filets mignon by marinating in a simple red wine marinade no more the 30 minutes then I sear them quickly and pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes to get a medium rare depending on their thickness its the most foolproof way for me.You want your pan hot because because you wont over cook thems so they are still raw inside if you are going to finish in the oven. This worked well for me on the job as I would hafto cook at least 18 to 20 filets for big parties.If you have some that are thicker you will get some rare at the same time.
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:18 AM   #7
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thanks for the replies

" besides, too hot is easy to correct. just turn down the heat a little."

Yeah im asking how to tell if i need to correct it friend...ive seen i think Alton Brown do some water test,,,,

"At that point you'll know if it's too hot or not."

Yes, but how? If i lift up the meat to see if it's charring too much it will ruin the sear...i want to know before i put the meat in....

What will a drop of water do in the skillet if it is too hot?

if it just instantly vaporizes it's too hot?

I'm going for around MEDIUM HIGH, but don't know this guy's range

and yeah, they are fist size pieces

im cooking individual 8 OZ filets, with almond oil, salt, pepper, and topping them with a compound butter of 1/2 Stilton 1/2 Butter....
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:45 AM   #8
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I have never used the "water drop method". I always set the pan (stainless steel) to med-high and it worked just fine. With the coat of oil, it wont immediatley stick to the pan, if it sticks at all. You won't ruin the sear by checking on it.

That cut of meat is pretty forgiving. Even if it comes out med to med well, it will still be tender. If you prefer med rare, just sear on all sides, the carry over cooking will finish it while it rests.
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:01 AM   #9
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you could be like alton, and sit around with your crew doing experiments that sometimes makes cooking something simple overly complicated. i like alton's shows very much, but he goes overboard sometimes.

a good experiment would be calculating the heat of the pan by determining how fast a measured amount of water, in this case around 1cc (a drop), completely evaporates.
compare several timings to a reading from an infrared thermometer, and you'll be able to guesstimate the pan's heat by just by using water droplets.

i think you're worrying too much about overheating the pan. like jeekinz said, the temp will drop as soon as you add the meat, and i agree that a hunk o' beef tenderloin is somewhat forgiving.
also, what i meant by checking it is to look closely at the edges where it contacts the pan. you'll see if it's searing correctly, or burning. like i said, i doubt that you'd burn it. if you must, you can very carefully lift the edge of the meat a little to check it.

btw, does anyone know if almond oil is good at high temps?

when are you going to add the stilton/butter combo, legs? i'd do it at the end, on a hot metal platter to get that sizzling effect.
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:03 AM   #10
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Be sure to do the water test before you put any oil in the pan. We don't want to hear that you ended up in the Emergency Room from burns when the water met the hot oil.

The pan won't release the meat if it's not cooked on the first side. If you find it's sticking, that's because it's not ready to be turned.

Be careful not to overcook the filets. I find that just searing on both sides over medium high heat provides enough heat that 6-ounce filets will finish cooking during the "rest period" before you serve them.
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