Filet Mignon Sous Vide With Saffron Rice Pilaf

four 1-inch-thick beef tenderloin filets
olive oil
chimichurri spice blend
La Yu
crushed red pepper flakes
one cup long-grain basmati rice
some broken pieces of linguini
finely diced shallots
two cups chicken stock
fresh-ground black pepper
some saffron threads


Here are the filets. Our local butcher wraps the whole tenderloin in a layer of fat and then ties with string, which is great for grilling or broiling to add more flavor. For sous vide, you don’t want that extra fat, so I asked him to take it off.


Components of the marinade. I used 1/3 cup of olive oil with a good amount of the other stuff. Stir it all up real good!


Filets sealed into their own vacuum bags with the marinade. You can sous vide them immediately, or leave them in the fridge for as long as you want, up to over night. I held them about two hours before cooking.


Immerse the filets in the water bath and start making the pilaf. One-inch thick pieces of meat take about one hour to come to temperature, and we set the temperature to 129 degrees F, aiming at rare-to-medium-rare. Sautee the shallots in olive oil until they are starting to brown. Get your chicken broth simmering, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.


Add the broken linguini, and continue to sautee until the linguini start to brown.


Crush some saffron threads into the broth.


Add the rice and continue to sautee, until the rice is just starting to toast.


Put the sauteed mixture in a ceramic or cast iron oven-safe vessel, pour in the broth, and mix it up well, distributing the rice evenly. Add salt and black pepper. You want something that has a partially porous surface, and not completely impervious like glass. I used my Le Creuset tajine.


Cover, put in the oven, and bake for 35 minutes. At this time, get a cast-iron flat or grill pan heated up on the stove top at the highest temperature.


Filets should be done! From what I have read, for tender cuts of meat like filet, it doesn’t matter if they go longer than the intended cooking time (within reason, as many hours at temperature can supposedly cause the meat to become mushy instead of tender). For tough cuts that you would normally braise, it is necessary to keep at temperature for longer, in order to allow the meat to tenderize. I will be experimenting with a tough cut soon.


Remove the filets from the bags and pat them dry with paper towel.


Grill the filets for 30 seconds on each side. Do not press down on them with a spatula! And do not cook longer than just necessary to char the outside! (Sorry for out of focus.)


Done! And note that there is no reason to let them rest–as there is when you grill or broil–because they are already at a uniform state throughout.


Remove the pilaf from the oven allow to rest for ten minutes before opening. Look at how nice that looks!


Gently fluff with a fork.


Beautiful!! The meat was tender and packed with flavor, and the pilaf was perfectly fluffy and flavorful.


You can see that the meat is absolutely uniform rare-to-medium-rare, with just a very thin layer of char on the outside. There is no extended gradient of doneness as there is when you grill or broil. (Sorry for out of focus.)


  1. besomyka says

    How was the texture after grilling? What was your total time in the circulator? Adding things up, it seems like ~45 min? My sisters refuse to eat meat that is still red, but I think the ‘juice’ that can sometimes pool, sometimes even with resting. This cooking methods looks to resolve some of the issues they are squeamish about while sill allowing me to serve meat I’m not embarrassed about.

    I’m also curious about penetration of the brine. Under vacuum for 45 min, I’d bet it was pretty good.

    Damn, I’m hungry now!

  2. says

    The texture was perfect rare-to-medium-rare throughout the inside, with nice char on the outside. Total time in the circulator was about one hour, as I stated, which is what is recommended for one-inch-thick pieces of meat. Interestingly, the sous vide books (I use Modernist Cuisine at Home, by that Microsoft billionaire dude) say that the cooking time scales with the square of the thickness, so a two-inch-thick piece needs to cook for nearly three hours. There was no “brine”, but if you’re talking about the marinade, as I also stated, it was in the vacuum bags for about two hours before going into the circulator, so a total of about three hours under vacuum. And yes, the flavors of the marinade seemed to penetrate nicely. As far as pooling of red juices, it seems like the sous vide method of cooking keeps the juices inside the meat, instead of leaking out.

  3. Trebuchet says

    NIce of Santa to bring you that cool machine! Do try it with cheaper cuts. It almost seems like sacrilege to use it on nice salmon and steaks. But the results look delicious.

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