Ryan Adams has done an excellent series on different cuts of beef and has given permission to re-post his content here, with minor modifications for the Professional Chef audience.

Cuts of Beef Series: Beef Mock Tender, Shoulder Tender, Petite Filet

Grilled Petite Fillet photoPicture by Henry Figueroa

Let’s explore something new today, shall we? I mean, finding juicy tidbits about the history of familiar cuts is great and all, and a big part of why I write this column, but covering cuts like short ribs and flank steak all the time is a little bit like preaching to the choir. Whether researching an unfamiliar technique, or dealing with a fruit that I’ve never worked with before, almost nothing brings a smile to my face like discovery.

Today’s post holds another one of those serotonin-boosting moments: I’ve recently discovered a cut of meat that looks just like Filet Mignon but offers a big, beefy flavor in the place of that cut’s haute-y attitude. Oh, and it’s cheaper too. I’m talking about the shoulder tender.

Beef Chuck Shoulder Tender IMPS/NAMP 114F

The shoulder tender (also called mock tender and petite fillet) is a small, oblong muscle that rests on the cow’s shoulder next to the top blade and is part of the chuck primal. The tender is made by separating the teres major muscle from the shoulder along the natural seam. Most of the fat and connective tissue should be removed by the butcher, leaving a lean piece of muscle. Now, I just mentioned that this cut of beef is cheaper, better tasting, and looks just like the tenderloin.

All of that goodness must come with a downside, which turns out to be that this “tender” is more of a marketing term and isn’t as delicate as the name might suggest. The shoulder tender needs some special attention, as overcooking will render the meat anything but tender. Cooking methods that are more forgiving, like braising, will deliver the best results. Marinades make grilling a viable option, oven roasting can produce a juicy dish, and advanced techniques like sous vide will guarantee a temperature-perfect product.

Beef Chuck Tender 114F Variations

The shoulder tender is another one of those cuts that has no variation. What you see is what you get: a lean, fillet of beef, roughly ten inches long, three inches wide. A medium-coarse grain runs the length of the cut.

Beef Chuck Tender Alternate Names

  • Fish Steak
  • Chuck Fillet Steak
  • Chuck Tender Steak
  • Shoulder Tender
  • Mock Tender
  • Petite Filet
  • Tender Medallions
  • Faux Tender
  • Chuck Clod Tender
  • Shoulder Petite Tender

Mock Tender Purchasing Recommendations

Purchase shoulder tender whole or pre-cut into medallion style steaks, about 3/4 inch thick. If you want to roast the shoulder tender whole, pick the largest one you can find. The meat itself should have a bright, cherry-red color with speckles of fat running through the meat. Check that the muscle is firm to the touch, and that the cryovac doesn’t contain excess liquid. A whole shoulder tender weighs about 3 pounds on average. Expect names like “petite fillet”, “petite tender”, and similar variations; “shoulder tender” is actually a newer marketing term for the cut, and not all meat purveyors will have caught up with the times.

Chef Recommendations For Mock Tender

Several Chefs have weighed in on this cut so I am sharing their knowledge here. Mock tenders are similar in “tenderness” to a top sirloin, but if cooked on the grill as a steak they cannot be cooked MW or Well as they become very tough. They tend to bleed-out after cooking, so they must be served quickly and therefore may not be a good catering steak, but may work as a catering roast. The mock tender has a more beefy flavor than fillet mignon, but is not as tender as a fillet mignon.

Petite Filet Recipes

Nose To Tail At Home

Mock Tender Butchering Guide

The PDF file below shows butchering technique for the Petite Tender as well as some table marketing material. It is 3.7 MB so it takes a bit to download.

Petite Tender PDF butchering guide


Comments from before Site Migration    [ Oct 09, 2013  ]

Thanks Alan, glad the info was useful. And thanks both for the comment and for sharing the site.

ALAN K. []    [ Oct 08, 2013 ]

Yes the article was very informative and I plan to pass it on to other chefs.


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