Men, please forgive my female-centric analogy here. Women, you know what I’m talking about. When you have one in your closet, you’re ready for anything. It’s that perfect-fitting, seasonless, always-appropriate garment. Funeral? Wedding? Cocktail party? Dress it up, dress it down, or leave it alone and it’s just great too. No matter the occasion, your little black dress can take you there.
Men, you probably have one too. You know the shirt. Every time, every event, it feels great and impresses as necessary. It’s your go-to.
Introducing the little black dress of the kitchen: Beef Tenderloin. Your go-to to impress with very little fuss. Click here for recipes that will take your tenderloin from picnic to cocktail party.
If you’re a beef lover and are looking for a longer-cooking showstopper this holiday season, see The Butcher’s Wife’s Guide to Prime Rib by clicking here.
The Little Black Dress of the Kitchen
A Whole Beef Tenderloin is the investment piece in your culinary wardrobe. Read on to learn how to treat it with the care it deserves.
Select a good tenderloin. Marbling is key. Although the tenderloin is very lean, some white marbling should be visible. Look for flecks of white throughout the crosscut. Also, be sure to ask your butcher where the beef came from. A lot of co-op farms across the country utilize the same standards and reject feed-lot practices. Listen for the “co-op” buzzword in your butcher’s answer.
Tenderloin has a large end and a small end, and most butchers will “trim and tie” your tenderloin. This allows the tail end to be folded and tied, to create a roast that will cook evenly. If you purchased one that didn’t come trimmed and tied, you’ll need to tuck the tail and tie every few inches with butcher twine.
Some butchers will offer a center-cut tenderloin, the prize of the meat counter. The butcher trims off the “head” of the tenderloin and the narrowing “tail” end, and creates a perfect, tender, uniform roast.
No matter which preparation you choose, be sure to take the beef out of the refrigerator and unwrap it about an hour before you want to cook it. The center should be room temperature before cooking. No meat likes to be put ice cold into the heat! The time open to air (you can cover with a clean dishtowel) helps dehydrate the outside to ensure good browning. This goes for every protein!
You must have a meat thermometer! There’s no other way to cook beef just the way you like it. In a pinch, an instant-read thermometer will work. But every time you want to check the temperature, you have to let heat out of the oven.
A programmable, digital, probe thermometer works much better. You insert the thermometer, set the desired internal temperature on the digital display, put the dish in the oven, and a cord comes out the oven door to the unit. It alarms you when your roast is done!
A word about peppercorns: In the absence of a mortar and pestle, use a plastic freezer bag. The Butcher’s Wife whacks hers a few times with a big frying pan. A rolling pin or wine bottle will work, too. Just bang until there are about 25% whole peppercorns left. Then pour that into a 9X13 dish to coat the tenderloin.
Check out The Butcher's Wife's Beef Tenderloin with Silky Red Pan Sauce recipe by clicking here.