Here we will discuss why it is that such a small piece of meat, a filet mignon, is so much more expensive per pound than other larger pieces of meat. Filet mignon comes from the tenderloin of the animal, which in itself is an expensive cut. So that means that the filet mignon itself will be expensive too.
The tenderloin, where the filet mignon is cut from, only has a limited amount of filet mignons that can come from the actual tenderloin. This is because the tenderloin doesn’t have the same diameter throughout the entire tenderloin. The tenderloin has the shape of an elephant’s trunk, meaning that one end is thicker than the other (has a greater, more suitable diameter for cutting filets from it) on the tenderloin.
Filet mignon is usually cut to a thickness of about one and a half inches, with a diameter of 2 and a half to 3 inches for each cut. Usually, only about 7 to 8 good pieces of filet mignon, with some weighing less than other filets cut with the same thickness, is all that a tenderloin can yield for one side of a cow. An animal only has 2 tenderloins total. As the filets are cut from the tenderloin, eventually the tenderloin becomes so thin, that only smaller pieces of meat can be cut from what is left, and used for other purposes.
Of the 7 to 8 good pieces, half of these pieces are the bigger filet mignons that weigh more and have more meat. The smaller ones are more treasured, as they come from the loin section where all the other most tender cuts of the animal are found. This is from the tail of the tenderloin. Technically, these are the real filet mignons. The entire tenderloin streches a cross the loin and sirloin section. The filet mignon already being a fairly small steak as is, now becomes even more expensive when an individual desires more than just one piece for their meal.
More pieces can be cut from the head of the tenderloin (the thicker side), which is a piece that is divided by a seam to be cut off during preparation. The entire tenderloin is used as much as possible, as it is the most treasured part of the animal for steaks.
The filet mignon is the most tender cut of all steaks from the entire animal. It’s small size and extreme tenderness, makes it a highly desired steak that now becomes very expensive. For individuals that haven’t had a filet mignon before, but have had a regular chewy/tough steak, the filet mignon is described as being the most tender melt-in-your-mouth steak that they have ever had. Of course, this is when it is prepared and cooked properly.
Basically, when an individual is paying for a filet mignon, they are paying for the experience of eating this tender steak, not to completely fill their bellies from these morsels. The filet, mignon can be combined with other fine sides and dishes, but it is the star of the show most of the time in the dish being served.
The job of the tenderloin in an animal is to help support its back. It has an easy role in the animal, so the tenderloin ends up being one of the most least worked muscles in the animal, and very tender. The muscles aren’t well worked, so they aren’t tough either. The tenderness of meat in certain animals that are commonly eaten is a frequent problem when cooking and eating, so the filet mignon from the tenderloin becomes more desirable; therefore more valuable.
Despite the filet mignon not being as flavorful as other less expensive per pound steaks due to it being lean with very little fat, it is still more valuable, since meat is priced more for its tenderness and ease of chewing, not its flavor. Being able to chew a piece of meat easier is more important to most people than flavor, since flavor can be adjusted with seasonings.
Demand and supply.
Supply and demand can make the filet mignon even more expensive, especially since only a limited number of them can be made per animal. As mentioned, since the entire tenderloin can’t be made into filet mignons, then the price rises when the demand gets higher. Other portions of the animal can offer more filling pieces, while filet mignons are simply just smaller in size. However, this doesn’t mean that filets can’t be made from other portions of meat in the animal, cause they certainly can. However, these filets aren’t the same thing as the filet mignon in taste, and especially in texture.
So if filets are being sold at a cheaper price than the filet mignons, they probably aren’t the actual most tender filet mignons that are cut from the tenderloin itself. Other pieces of meat can be cut into the shape of a tenderloin and then cut into filets or medallions. These can come from various parts of the animal, including tougher section that are no where near the tenderness of a filet mignon.
Filets can be made to look like filet mignon from other lean parts of the animal, like the round section. They can be made from the eye of round, which has a long trunk-like shape, like the tenderloin, but a little thicker. However, this eye of round filet is much tougher. Steak filets can also be made from other places, like the sirloin, which is very close to where the tenderloin lies in the animal. Again, it won’t have the same tenderness as the level of a real filet mignon will.
With this said, it makes the filet mignon stand out even more as a delicacy that can only be enjoyed to its fullest when the filet is cut from the tenderloin.
Also, porterhouse steaks are popular and expensive, because they also include the filet mignon as a part of the steak when it is cut. The filet mignon really stands out to most individuals as an exclusive piece of meat, that is even noticed when it is a portion on a whole steak like the porterhouse. This portion is what makes the porterhouse even more prized.
The filet mignon is so prized for its tenderness, that it is cut out separately from the animal and prepared; instead of letting it stay and be used to make such steaks as the porterhouse steak, since a porterhouse can’t be made without the tenderloin. Also, butchers and chefs take ultra care when cutting this portion (the tenderloin) out from the animal, because they know it is in high demand.
The filet mignon is expensive mainly for its unique extra tenderness, but also for its fancy name, its low supply in comparison to other steaks, and the popularity it has once more and more people find out why the filet mignon is so expensive after trying it. For the same reasons that wagyu is so expensive, is virtually the same reasons why the filet mignon of a regular cow is so expensive: most people enjoy the tenderness of steaks more than anything else the most.