The B4FD Project features blog posts from guest writers that explore the far-reaching benefits of family dinner.

Family Dinner Month 2012: Sept 17 -- Oct 29, 2012


My Dad’s Filet Mignon

by Kathleen Cuneo, Ph.D.

Most of the time I attribute my love of food and cooking to growing up with a mom and maternal grandmother who passed on their passion for food and their skill for preparing it to me. This past Mother’s Day, however, I found myself thinking of my Dad and his influence on food in my life as I was preparing a special dinner of grilled filet mignon for the mothers and grandmothers celebrating the day with my family. Certain foods have warm and affectionate associations with certain people in my life. Filet mignon is definitely associated with my father in my heart and head.

My Dad has passed on his love of and skill for grilling to me, and I am the unofficial grillmaster in my house, contrary to the stereotype of the “man of the house” as chief griller. In fact, a few years ago, I got a new grill for Mother’s Day. A few years ago I also saw a Father’s Day card that was perfect for me to give to my Dad. It has a drawing of a large grill and a small grill on the front and says, “Happy Father’s Day from your little grill.” I think I’ve sent it to him more than once ~ but that’s likely due to my middle-aged brain forgetting that I already sent it to him!

Since we only have filet mignon once or twice a year, I really want to make sure it turns out as close to perfect as possible so that we can truly savor it. I still refer to my handwritten notes taken during a phone conversation with my father the first time I made filet mignon on our first Weber grill fifteen years ago. My Dad has since moved on to a Big Green Egg, but I am happy with my Weber. I’m sure his directions could be adapted to whichever grill you use.

Here are his instructions:

  • Select steaks that are 2” to 2 ½ “ thick.
  • Marinate them overnight (recipe for marinade follows) or at least several hours. Be sure to turn the steaks in the marinade once after at least a couple of hours.
  • Preheat the grill to maximum heat.
  • Spray your steaks with cooking spray before putting them on the grill to prevent sticking.
  • Place the steaks in the center of the grill and close the lid.
  • Cook on high heat for 2 minutes.
  • After two minutes, turn the center burner off and lower the other two burners (assuming you have a 3 burner grill) to medium. DO NOT OPEN the grill cover!
  • Cook for 4 minutes more.
  • Then turn the steaks over and cook for 4 more minutes (for medium-rare; longer for more well done).

This formula always worked perfectly for me, but when I did get a new grill I had to make some burner and time adjustments. The principles remain the same though.

Steak Marinade

Adapted from Weber grill cookbook

½ cup olive oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dry mustard

1 clove pressed garlic

¼ tsp pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Place steaks in the marinade in a shallow nonmetal container. (I usually use a large baking dish). Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Then cook as listed above.


Kathleen Cuneo, Ph.D. is a psychologist, parent coach, and mom. Her mission is to help parents raise happy and healthy kids – without making themselves or their kids crazy! She provides education and support to parents through her websites www.dinnertogether.com, www.drcuneo.com, and www.kitchentableparents.com.

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