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What should I look for when I'm at the store picking out fillet mignon? How can I tell by look which pieces are more likely to be higher quality pieces of meat?

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    Welcome to Seasoned Advice, fellow Code Reviewer :) – Phrancis Jan 2 '15 at 22:39
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Marbling

From my experience working in butcher shops, you want to first look for good marbling (unless you are on a low fat diet). To illustrate:

marbling

I prefer personally anywhere between No. 5 and No. 8. No. 9 and up I find a bit excessive, though some people like it that way. I have had some below No. 5 and they were still good, though.

Dry-aging

From Wikipedia article:

The process changes beef by two means. Firstly, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste. Secondly, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.

Some higher-end butcher shops will dry-age their own beef (at considerable expense) but if you don't have a shop nearby that does that, you can also dry-age it yourself.

Other things

I would recommend not to marinate fillet mignon and season it only lightly. If you plan on wrapping it in bacon, as many do, if you wrap it a day or even a few hours ahead of time the meat will absorb more of the smokiness of the bacon.

  • Where would you rate these? i.stack.imgur.com/yx2Wa.jpg – nhgrif Jan 2 '15 at 23:21
  • @nhgrif 3-4 would be my guess. – Johanna Jan 2 '15 at 23:56
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    Nice pics, but I have to ask, why wouldn't you salt the steak? Nearly every recipe I've read says to season it when you take it out to warm up (typically with salt & pepper). These two questions seem to agree to salt it up liberally before cooking. – Dacio Jan 3 '15 at 2:26
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    Salting beef prior to cooking has long been debated. I personally salt beef pretty heavily before I pan sear it, but not when grilling. – tsturzl Jan 3 '15 at 6:37
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    I have removed my statement about salting. It seems to be an old butcher's myth, I've just now changed my mind about it. Source: seriouseats.com/2011/03/… – Phrancis Jan 3 '15 at 23:32

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