Q: What's the best way to roast whole beef tenderloin? Can you dry-age beef at home?
A: These two questions go hand-in-hand and always come up this time of year. Beef tenderloin is popular this time of year because it makes an impressive roast to serve for your holiday dinner. While impressive, it is also intimidating. Here's the thing: You'll spend a lot of money on it, so you want it to be perfect.
Beef tenderloin needs care when cooking. Undercook it, and it might be too cool in the center and too rare for some guests. Overcook it and, well, everybody will probably still eat it, but that's not the point.
Here are a few easy steps for tenderloin success. In the last few times I've cooked a whole center portion of beef tenderloin it turned out perfect. Or you can follow the recipe below for a marinated tenderloin.
Prep: You'll need to begin preparing the tenderloin several days in advance. Trim the meat of any excess fat or silver skin. Also cut off what is called the chain - a long piece of meat with fat and part of the muscle that held the tenderloin to the bone. (Grind that chain meat or cube it and freeze for another use.)
Many recipes call for folding the tapered end underneath the tenderloin. I haven't had great results doing that, so I cut off the tapered end and cook it separately or freeze it. That way, I've got an even hunk of meat.
Dry-age: Place the meat on a rimmed platter. Pat it dry with paper towels and set it in the refrigerator. Drying the beef helps the exterior crisp up. (You can do this with any large roast, including a standing rib roast.) Refrigerate the meat at a minimum of overnight, but preferably up to two days for the best results.
After dry-aging, season all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper (use a coarse grind). You also can use your favorite seasoning or rub. Once the meat is seasoned, tie the roast in several spots so it holds a nice shape. Let it rest at least another hour (at room temperature) or in the refrigerator up to six hours.
Roast: If the tenderloin is refrigerated, remove it one hour before roasting and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloin and sear it until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer the tenderloin to a rimmed baking sheet and place it in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking another 20 minutes (for about a 3-pound tenderloin) or until it reaches an internal temperature of about 120 degrees in the thickest part for medium-rare. It will continue to cook while it rests. You can cook it to about 125-130 if you want the center to be pink, not red.
Use an inexpensive instant-read thermometer to test the temperature. Let the meat rest at least 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Try today's recipe for Roasted Beef Tenderloin with a Balsamic Glaze.
ROASTED BEEF TENDERLOIN
Serves 8 (generously) Preparation time: 20 minutes Total time: 50 minutes (plus marinating time)
1 whole beef tenderloin (4 1/2 pounds), trimmed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of butter
You will need an oven-proof skillet large enough to hold the whole tenderloin, or you can cut it in half or use a heavy-duty roasting pan that will fit over two burners and can take direct high heat.
Trim the beef tenderloin of any fat. Place the tenderloin in a plastic sealable bag. In a glass measure, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce and rosemary. Pour the marinade over the beef, and seal the bag. Marinate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add the marinated tenderloin, discard marinade, and sear about 3 minutes on all sides until browned and crusty. Transfer the skillet to the oven, and roast about 20 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. (If the skillet or pan becomes too dry, add a little beef broth or water to it.) For medium-rare, the internal temperature should register about 125 on an instant read thermometer.
Remove the roast from the oven, and transfer to a platter. Tent with foil and let it rest 10 minutes before slicing.
For the sauce: In the skillet the tenderloin was roasted in, add the beef broth. Heat over high heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and continue heating. Whisk in the butter until the sauce thickens slightly.
Slice the tenderloin and serve drizzled with sauce.
From the Free Press Test Kitchen.
499 calories (53% from fat), 30 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 2 g carbohydrate, 53 g protein, 236 mg sodium, 167 mg cholesterol, 43 mg calcium, 0 g fiber.
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