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Q: Mystery of Filet Mignon ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Mystery of Filet Mignon
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: tamkins-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 26 Apr 2003 16:54 PDT
Expires: 26 May 2003 16:54 PDT
Question ID: 195946
Filet mignon seems to be the leanest type of steak.  So, why does it
taste so good?  Most of the time, fattier things taste better.  But no
kind of steak has the same taste as filet mignon.  What is that about?

I don't need an extensive answer, but please don't answer if you don't
have a good one (i.e., I already know it's the tenderest, but I don't
think it tastes good simply because it's easier to chew).  :-)
Subject: Re: Mystery of Filet Mignon
Answered By: larre-ga on 26 Apr 2003 19:50 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for asking!

If you've fallen for the taste of filet mignon steaks, then you prefer
beef with a mild flavor. Filet's are the mildest flavored steaks. They
are so tender, they are seldom aged, differing from many other steak
cuts. Aging increases the beefy flavor of meat. And taste is, of
course, very subjective.

The whole tenderloin, or chateaubriand, is the name for the entire
strip of tenderloin meat. Slices of the tenderloin are called filet
mignon or tenderloin steaks. The reasons for the filet mignon's flavor
and the reason for the tenderness are both related to the muscle's
location and use. Filet mignon are cut from the tenderloin
(, which is not a heavily
exercised muscle, located in the middle of the back. The stronger a
muscle, the stronger the flavor, and the less tender the muscle
fibers. Big strong muscles, and strong meat flavor go hoof in hoof.
The tenderloin is an under exercised, softer and and therefore, a more
mildly flavored muscle.

Beef Cuts, Images/Charts

The tenderness and texture of tenderloin steaks can't be totally ruled
out as a factor in taste preferences. Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky
talk about the relationship of taste and texture in their book, "The
Elements of Taste". An excerpt is featured in the 2003 edition of
Flavor Online, and is available as a .PDF format download.

"Vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry are most often thought of as the
foundation elements - the platforms - upon which we build recipes.
Common sense, or at least common practice, makes the vegetable, meat,
fish, or poultry the centerpiece in naming a recipe. Just as often we
will start from the scent of an herb, the pungency of a spice,the
heady perfume of a forest mushroom, the idea of combining hot and cold
or smooth and crisp. All platform ingredients have a textural element,
which is a key, though often overlooked, component in the whole taste
process. Your mouth seeks texture before it begins to define tastes.
If something is crunchy, you will always notice the crunch first; it
punctuates one set of tastes and begins another. If something is
creamy or smooth, it will round out tastes, meld them, and help tone
down sharp edges. If something is toothy, like a piece of meat, what
happens is you bite down and, as you do, you breathe out, releasing
all the aroma components into the nose, thus pulling up flavor."

The Elements of Taste
Flavor Online 2003 Edition

You may also be one of the lucky among us who is a super-taster. Helen
Bausch explains: "Super-tasters have many more taste buds and taste
more intensely than those known as non-tasters. If you are a
super-taster, you are born with a different anatomy, with many more
fungiform papillae, or little sensors that hold taste buds on the
tongue. This excess of fungiform papillae means super-tasters actually
“feel” foods more intensely. Bartoshuk says this is “like reaching up
and feeling something with 500 fingers as opposed to 50.”

The Factors of Taste, by Helen Bausch
Flavor Online 2001 Edition

If you have a hankering to test your taste buds in order to better
understand why particular flavors appeal most to you, easy
instructions are provided in the following lesson plan offered by the
University of Wyoming. I've chosen to link Google's HTML version of
the document, because I experienced errors loading the .pdf into Adobe
Acrobat Reader. The HTML version provides the same information, but in
a slightly more "exuberant" format.

Wellness in the Rockies

If you'd like to find out if you are indeed, a super-taster, it's
really quite simple, though perhaps a bit messy. All that's needed is
a bit of blue food coloring and a mirror. The blue food coloring is
applied liberally to the tongue, which absorbs coloring quite easily.
The mirror is used to examine the results and look for white patches
anywhere on the tongue.

Science.Net explains: "Those blessed (or plagued) by the super-taster
gene will have white patches where the blue food coloring hasn't

Your taste buds are located on small mushroom shaped structures on
your tongue called fungiform papillae - there's normally between one
and five taste buds on each one. So the more papillae that you have,
the more taste buds.

The blue food coloring stains the normal skin on your tongue, but
doesn't stain the fungiform papillae, so they stand out."
Science.Net Biology and Medical Science


Google Search Terms:

Filet mignon flavor OR taste
"taste preferences"
beef charts
taste "strong flavors" taste buds

As a fellow filet mignon lover, I hope this information helps explain
our taste preferences. Should you have any questions about the
materials or links provided, please, feel free to ask.


Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 26 Apr 2003 20:12 PDT
Oh my, I managed to post your Answer, without sharing my favorite
Filet Mignon marinade! This is a very mild marinadeparticularly good
with beef, adding interest to the meat, while emphasizing, rather than
changing, its natural flavor.

Tequila Garlic Marinade

1/2 cup tequila
1 clove of elephant garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon freshly coarse ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra mild olive oil or canola oil 
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Marinate filets 1-3 hours (I use a large ziploc bag), then grill or
broil to desired doneness, spooning leftover marinade over steaks
during the first half of cooking.

Happy grilling!

tamkins-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

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