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How to cook the perfect fillet steak

The art of cooking steak is one of the most debated topics in all of cooking, and when learning how to cook fillet steak, the most premium and expensive cut, you want to make sure you’re doing everything right. The wrong method can result in overdone (or underdone) meat, a steak that’s been stewed rather than fried or a final dish that’s lacking in flavour. Treat this prime ingredient with respect, however, and you’ll be rewarded with one of the nicest, most tender cuts of meat available.

When buying fillet steak, thicker pieces are less likely to overcook, so aim for a steak that’s almost as tall as it is wide. It’s vital that it’s at room temperature before it goes anywhere near the pan, too, giving you time to heat your pan (the heavier the better) until it is smoking hot. If it’s too cold when the meat goes in, the temperature will drop further and you’ll end up stewing the steak. You’re after a dark golden crust, which is where the majority of the steak’s flavour comes from, and the hotter the pan is the better the crust will be.

1
Remove the fillet steak from the oven 25–30 minutes before cooking to allow it to come up to room temperature
2
Season the steak liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Work the seasoning into the steak using your fingertips
3
Meanwhile, place a frying pan over a high heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When smoking hot, add the beef cut-side down and move around the pan for the first few seconds of cooking so it doesn't stick. After this point, leave the beef to caramelise without moving it for 2–3 minutes, until it has a wonderful dark golden crust. Turn the steak over and repeat
4
Sear the steak along the edges to obtain a nice colour, then sit it on its base. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary to the pan, followed by generous knobs of butter. Allow to melt and bubble, all the while basting the butter over the steak, for 2–3 minutes on each side for a perfect medium-rare finish
5
Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place before serving

Serving suggestions

A premium fillet steak cooked well needs only a few simple sides to become a luxurious full meal. Homemade chips, a fluffy jacket potato with sour cream or even a creamy gratin or macaroni cheese all perfectly partner up with the rich meat. Steak sauces are always a welcome addition, but be careful not to overpower the flavour of the meat with them – after all, it should be the star of the show.

For something that has the charm of classical French cooking, Henry Harris’ Filet au poivre is hard to beat; it sees the steak flavoured with plenty of peppercorns and a rich sauce made with Cognac, butter and veal stock. If you fancy something a little unusual then try Peter Gordon’s incredible Beef pesto recipe, which sees everything from garlic and soy sauce to pine nuts and basil accompanying the steak in perfect balanced harmony.

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