(I know, not a very good photo.)
The weekend after Christmas, we had friends come over for dinner. I decided to make a Beef Tenderloin. I was a little nervous about this, because I rarely cook beef and have never cooked a beef tenderloin before. I bought the meat at Costco, and the tenderloin was about 5 pounds. There were only 4 of us, so I cut the tenderloin in half (froze the other half for later), trimmed it, and tied it. I followed the recipe with a few exceptions-I seared it in a skilled in a small amount of olive oil before roasting, and instead of making homemade beef stock, I used a box of Swanson's beef stock. And innstead of cracking the peppercorns, I just lightly coated the tenderloin with pepper that I ground at a course setting in my mill. The resulting beef tenderloin was so tender and flavorful. The port sauce was very good and a perfect accompaniment. The sauce does need to reduce for about an hour, and I still thickened it with a little cornstarch. I served the tenderloin with Herbed Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Green Beans, Shallots, and Red Peppers.
Roast Beef Tenderloin with Port Sauce
Bon Appétit | December 2007 , taken from Epicurious
yield: Makes 10 servings
Salting the beef 24 to 36 hours in advance enhances flavor and texture. For more on this technique, see the test-kitchen tip below.
• 1 4- to 5-pound trimmed whole beef tenderloin, tail end tucked under, tied every 3 inches
• 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, divided
• 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
• 3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
• 1 fresh rosemary sprig
• 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
• 1 cup ruby or tawny Port
• 1 box beef stock (approx. 2 cups)
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely cracked in mortar with pestle or in resealable plastic bag with mallet
Sprinkle entire surface of beef tenderloin with coarse kosher salt. Place beef on rack set over large rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, 3 minutes. Add Cognac, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon cracked pepper and cook until liquid evaporates, 1 minute. Add Port; bring to simmer. Add all of beef stock. Boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Strain into medium saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids in strainer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 24 to 36 hours ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and chill.
Let beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Rub beef all over with oil; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Return beef to rack on baking sheet and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125°F for medium-rare (135°F to 140°F in thinnest part), about 30 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 15 minutes.
Bring sauce to boil; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut off string from roast. Cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with sauce.
TEST-KITCHEN TIP: Salting in advance, also called dry brining, is often done to improve the texture of sinewy cuts of meat. But it also works magic on tender cuts, amping up flavor and juiciness. It sounds counterintuitive; for years the accepted wisdom was that pre-salting dries out meat. But the moderate salting you'll be doing here does the opposite. Water is first drawn out of the meat and then gets reabsorbed; this saltier, more flavorful moisture helps intensify taste. What's more, the exterior of the tenderloin dries out slightly, making it quicker to brown in the oven.