obsessivewoman suggested we try a beef tenderloin this year, so I reserved a couple of 7 pound roasts at Safeway and picked them up on the 23rd. We spent a while on the America’s Test Kitchen web site reviewing different recipes (which vary wildly) and eventually distilled it down to this:
The night before the party:
- Remove the silverskin, but not the chain; recipes also suggest that one can simply segment the silverskin to avoid it shortening during cooking and curling the meat, much like cooking calamari.
- Tie the roast with twine every 1½–2 inches, folding the tails over to achieve uniform thickness and trying for as cylindrical a profile as possible.
- Set it on foil and cover it in kosher salt (about 1½ tbsp).
- Close the foil and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
On the day of the party:
- Two hours before cooking, remove a stick of unsalted butter from the refrigerator to soften.
- 20 minutes before cooking, heat oven to 300°F.
- Remove roast from refrigerator and blot dry with paper towels, removing any remaining salt.
- Rub butter all over the roast (¼ stick should be enough) and then cover in low-salt Montreal steak seasoning. (Every recipe we saw for tenderloin managed to cover it in either butter or olive oil.)
- Place the roast diagonally on a baking rack on a cookie sheet; it’s too long to fit in a prime rib roasting rack.
- Insert meat thermometer and begin roasting.
- At 105°F, remove the roast, flip it over, and replace it in the oven.
- At 120°F, pour olive oil in a saucepan and begin heating on medium high.
- At 125°F, remove the roast from the oven and immediately bisect it. Sear each half in the olive oil, 1 minute on each side.
- Let the halves stand, tented in foil, for ¼ hour.
- When carving, remove the chain first and slice that onto a separate platter in 1–1½” segments. It requires more attention when eating to get around the gristle, but it’s very flavorful.
- Now that the chain is removed, slice the rest of the roast in ¼–½” medallions.
Tenderloin cooks fast compared to a prime rib; it’s ready to serve in a couple of hours. The result is very flavorful, and tender enough to cut easily with a butter knife.
Future avenues of investigation:
- A guest mentioned that there are waste-not-want-not recipes for silverskin. See if I can track one down.
- One recipe I saw used a rub of 4½ tsp of kosher salt, 1½ tsp of sugar, and ¼ tsp of baking soda to make the surface tacky (in that case to make an olive oil-peppercorn mixture stick to it); that might also get more butter to stick to the roast.