ROAST BEEF TENDERLOIN

Serves 4 to 6.   Published March 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

If using table salt, reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon. Ask your butcher to prepare a trimmed, center-cut Châteaubriand from the whole tenderloin, as this cut is not usually available without special ordering. If you are cooking for a crowd, this recipe can be doubled to make two roasts. Sear the roasts one after the other, wiping out the pan and adding new oil after searing the first roast. Both pieces of meat can be roasted on the same rack.

INGREDIENTS

1 beef tenderloin center-cut Châteaubriand (about 2 pounds), trimmed of fat and silver skin (see note)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (see note)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 recipe flavored butter (see related recipes)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Using 12-inch lengths of twine, tie roast crosswise at 11/2-inch intervals. Sprinkle roast evenly with salt, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. 2. Pat roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle roast evenly with pepper and spread unsalted butter evenly over surface. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 125 degrees for medium-rare, 40 to 55 minutes, or 135 degrees for medium, 55 to 70 minutes, flipping roast halfway through cooking.

  3. 3. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place roast in skillet and sear until well browned on four sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side (total of 4 to 8 minutes). Transfer roast to carving board and spread 2 tablespoons flavored butter evenly over top of roast; let rest 15 minutes. Remove twine and cut meat crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices. Serve, passing remaining flavored butter separately.

RECIPE TESTING

Tenderloin Troubles

CRUSTY BUT OVERCOOKED
Tenderloin with a good flavorful crust is often marred by a band of gray, overcooked meat near the edge.

EVENLY COOKED BUT NO CRUST
Tenderloin that is rosy from edge to edge typically lacks a good crust and meaty flavor.

TECHNIQUE

Locating the Chateaubriand

The center-cut tenderloin, or Châteaubriand, comes from the middle of the whole tenderloin. The meat sits beneath the spine of the cow and gets no exercise at all, making it exceptionally tender. Furthermore, its cylindrical shape is an advantage for even cooking.

STEP-BY-STEP

A Better Way to Roast Beef Tenderloin

1. SALT meat and let stand 1 hour to intensify flavor.

2. RUB roast with small amount of softened butter to further boost flavor.

3. ROAST ON LOW to ensure evenly cooked meat throughout.

4. SEAR ON STOVETOPafter roasting to create well-caramelized crust with deep meaty flavor.

5. TOP WITH HERB BUTTER before meat rests to bring extra layer of bright, rich flavor.