Chef Andy: Roast tenderloin is heads and tails above the rest
By Andy Mueller
Known as the most tender of all steaks, the tenderloin graces menus at the finest restaurants in the world all year long.
This time of year, it also shows up on the tables of families gathered to celebrate the holidays.
Because of its lofty price, it’s sometimes feared by home cooks worried about over cooking, under cooking or simply not sure how to make it correctly.
Rest assured, it really is one of the easiest dishes to make and takes very little effort from start to finish.
Aptly named, the tenderloin is just that – tender, but really needs a little help to boost its flavor and presentation potential.
To me tenderloin is similar to chicken with the ability to take on just about any flavor profile you can think of, and the more aggressive the better.
Flavors like blue cheese, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms complement the meat wonderfully and elevate it to world-class status.
There are basically three parts to the whole tenderloin: The head, the tail and the barrel.
The head is the largest part of the tenderloin, has three separate muscles and is usually used in roasting recipes like Chateaubriand carved table side at posh steakhouses.
The tail is the thinnest part and is often cut into small medallions or cubed for slow-cooked tenderloin tips and various upscale stews like beef bourguignon, pot-au-feu (fancy beef stew) or very expensive beef stroganoff.
The barrel is the most sought after by chefs for grilling steaks because they are uniform in size and stand up like little soup cans on a plate.
The upscale filet mignon you see on menus are cut from the barrel and are by far the most expensive part of the whole tenderloin.
When roasting a whole tenderloin, you need to keep in mind that the three parts of the tenderloin cook differently and that’s why you sometimes see the meat tied with butcher twine. This is to help keep the tail tucked under to increase its diameter, making the tenderloin evenly cooked throughout.
No twine? No problem.
Simply tuck the tail under the barrel as it cooks and you’ll be fine.
Two important keys to follow as you pull off this rare treat: High heat sear before roasting to help seal in the juices, and 7 to 10 minute rest period on a wire rack after you remove it from the oven.
This allows the juices to stay inside the meat.
If you slice it right after roasting, the juices will pour out and the meat will be less juicy.
Your plate will be happy, but your palate will not.
Treat yourself to this king of beasts this holiday season or have it for New Year’s Eve and give a fond farewell to the craziest year ever.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and I hope 2021 is your best year yet.
Roast Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce
A meat thermometer or probe is highly recommended for best results.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
While the oven is preheating, sear a 2-3 pound fully trimmed whole tenderloin seasoned with salt and pepper in a large saute pan over medium high heat in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.
Make sure to get the meat seared on all sides.
Turn off heat, transfer tenderloin to roasting pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until internal temperature is 125 to 130 degrees at thickest part for medium rare.
The temperature will rise approximately 5 degrees out of the oven.
While the tenderloin is in the oven, let’s make the sauce:
Drain the oil from the pan you seared the meat in and turn the heat to medium.
As the pan heats up add:
2 cups red wine.
1 cup beef broth.
1 teaspoon brown sugar.
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
Bring to a simmer, continue to cook until liquid reduces by half.
Mix 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water in a small dish, stir to mix well then add to the red wine reduction.
The mixture will thicken slightly.
Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons cold butter to the sauce and swirl the pan as the butter slowly melts into the sauce.
After the roast has rested on a wire rack for at least 7 minutes, slice the tenderloin into 1/3 inch slices and drizzle with the red wine sauce.
Chef Andy Mueller is owner/chef of Galley 57 Supper Club in Bellevue – galley57.com.