The Tenderloin

Also Sold As: Filet, Filet mignon, Fillet, Châteaubriand (when cut as a large, center-cut roast feeding two or more), Tournedo (when cut from the smaller tapered section of the tenderloin closest to the Rib primal).

Where It’s Cut From: The central section of the Psoas major muscle in the Short loin primal of the steer.

What It Tastes Like: Extremely tender with an almost buttery texture. Very low in fat, and correspondingly low in flavor. To be honest, unless you are looking for a low-fat cut or prize tenderness above all-else, you’re better off with one of the other, less expensive cuts.

The Best Way to Cook It: Pan-frying, or grilling. Because it’s so low in fat and fat conducts heat more slowly than muscle, tenderloins tend to cook much faster than other steaks and are far more prone to drying out. Pan-frying in oil and finishing by basting it with butter helps add some richness, as does wrapping it in bacon before grilling (a very common approach). Even better is to purchase and roast or grill-roast it whole as a Châteaubriand—less surface area means less moisture loss. Because of its mild flavor, it’s often paired with flavorful sauces or compound butters.