Beef Tenderloin HALP
April 21, 2017 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I am having a dinner party this weekend. Apparently I was supposed to get a center-cut beef tenderloin weighing 3# or so; I have managed to acquire a WHOLE tenderloin weighing 7# and taller than my baby. WHAT DO I DO?

Googling for help is full of recipe cruft and I'm not sure what words to use to narrow this down.

So the recipe is a tenderloin in a red-wine sauce. I can double the sauce without a problem. The order of cooking for the meat is to season with salt and pepper, brown on all sides on the stovetop (about 10 minutes total), and then put in a 400* oven for 15 minutes or until thermometer registers 135*. (Then let rest 5-10 min for temp to rise.)

So this thing is DEFINITELY too long for any of my frying pans and maybe a bit too long for my big roasting pan. Should I just like cut it in half down the middle, brown each half, and roast them side by side? How much extra time do you think I need to cook it for? Am I better off keeping the center and trimming out the ends and cooking them separately like steaks? Most importantly if you want me to cut it up in some fashion, DO YOU HAVE ONLINE DIAGRAMS TO LINK ME TO?

I am open to an entire change of recipe if you think that's best. (But something in the herbed/red wine/rather plain flavor family would be best, given the rest of my menu.)

Thank you metafilter. This is my first beef tenderloin. I am dumb.

(For the curious, the rest of the menu will be wedge salad, baked potatoes, roasted rutabaga, and strawberries in balsamic.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Should I just like cut it in half down the middle, brown each half, and roast them side by side?

That is probably your best option unless you want to switch to grilling it.

How much extra time do you think I need to cook it for?

Not much. The two halves will each be about the weight you were expecting. Use a thermometer, if you weren't going to already.

Am I better off keeping the center and trimming out the ends and cooking them separately like steaks?

Depends on whether you have people in your dinner party who prefer more well-done meat. An advantage of the tapered shape of the tenderloin is that you get a nice continuum of doneness.
posted by jedicus at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2017

Best answer: I would certainly advise trimming off the ends and saving them for another time. Reheating such expensive meat is kind of a bust. Can you bring it back to the butcher and have them do this? If not, here's a guide:
posted by mkb at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2017 [9 favorites]

Since we don't know how many you are trying to feed, it's a little difficult to gauge. If the 3 pound roast would have been enough, I'd just cut it in half and roast the side that is the least tapered. I'd put the other end in the freezer to roast some other day. The only reason I'd choose the least tapered end this time is that it sounds like you really want this to come out fancy. Cooking the tapered end would still be good, but it might present less pretty and would also have some more done parts as jedicus says.
posted by advicepig at 10:46 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would add that whether you want to cook the entire tenderloin or not depends on the size of your dinner party. 6-8oz per person is reasonable unless you're feeding teenagers or bodybuilders, so 7lbs would be enough for 14-18 people. If your party is more like 6-10 people then you might want to just cook one half now and wrap the other half in clingfilm and cook it a little later.

Reheating such expensive meat is kind of a bust.

This is true, but sliced thin it makes excellent cold sandwiches. Goes very well with a horseradish spread.
posted by jedicus at 10:48 AM on April 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Yes, I would only cook as much as you need. You can cut the rest into 1.5" steaks for filet mignon later.

I highly highly recommend slow roasting and searing at the end (reverse sear) for more even cooking. 400 is going to give you a real big gradient of gray meat (super dry since tenderloin is very lean) and/or bloody center. Salt overnight to really get the surface dry. I trust this recipe. Here's the rationale.
posted by supercres at 10:51 AM on April 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

I agree that you should cut out a center piece from the whole tenderloin to the size that you want. What you do with the ends depends on what kind of meal you want with it.

You can cut it for steaks as mentioned already - I'd probably make a rich sauce like a bearnaise to go with it since the meat's pretty lean.

If you want to cook the ends like a full roast, then make a roast out of it! You can do this by:

1) Identify the tapered side of each end piece.
2) Using a metal fork, scrape half of the tapered end of each piece until they look kind of scraggly.
3) Apply salt to the scraggly surfaces.
4) Press the two meat pieces together such that the scraggly surfaces are in full contact with each other.
5) Tie tightly with butcher twine.

The process releases myoglobin which aids in binding the meat together in much the same way that kneading ground beef makes a sticky mixture that keeps hamburger patties held together. The two meat pieces will sort of bind together in to one "glued" piece which can then be cooked and slice, and it shouldn't fall apart.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:02 AM on April 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to link to you the same Serious Eat's guide to trimming a tenderloin that mkb linked above.

See step ten for obtaining the center cut.

I would do the above, follow the recipe as planned with a now properly trimmed and weight center cut and save the extra for another purpose (freeze if you want).

Side note: for a video, if you have access Alton Brown's Good Eats Season 9, Episode 18 and 19 Tender is the Loin pt 1 and 2 overview trimming and uses for the leftovers
posted by czytm at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2017

Do not cut it in half!!!

Cut off the two ends, keeping the center cut. Follow your recipe. Freeze the ends for a later use. Bring it to the butcher if you can't decide where to make the cuts.

posted by jbenben at 11:31 AM on April 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: "Can you bring it back to the butcher and have them do this?"

I mean, probably? But it would be awkward when I died of shame and couldn't cook for the party.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2017 [14 favorites]

Wrap it in foil and put it on a large cookie sheet for roasting. The next day, eat cold sliced meat until you pass out from happiness. (This is my family's Christmas tradition so I can assure you of its success)
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:57 AM on April 21, 2017

Very emphatically seconding (or thirding) the "take your half out of the middle" strategy. two roasts side by side would be fine, but the tapered ends aren't going to cook evenly/as slowly as the middle which is why splitting it in half isn't your best bet.

id be pretty tempted to take some (or all) of the trimmed end pieces and make myself some steak tartar.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:02 PM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, agreeing with jbenben not to cut it the long way (which is how I understand what you describe).

That serious eats link is perfect. Do that.
posted by freezer cake at 1:06 PM on April 21, 2017

Steak Tartare. Goodness YES. Or it's good friend, Carpaccio.

I guess what I am hoping for is that you cut off the ends from your center cut, freezing the ends and using later for glorious Tartare or Carpaccio. I really feel like this was a blessing, not a mistake or catastrophe!
posted by jbenben at 3:33 PM on April 21, 2017

Best answer: Do not cut it in half! Cut the tapered ends off so you can evenly cook the center cylindrical portion. If you cook a cone of meat in the oven, the tip of the cone will be overcooked.

Also, how do you (and your guests) like your meat cooked? If you leave it in the oven until the center reaches 135, it will continue cooking and be ~140 all the way through. That's pretty far on the "cooked" side for tenderloin.

Personally I would remove it at ~123 and let it rest under foil where it would reach ~130. That will result in tender, bright pink meat.

If you let the center reach 140, you'll have relatively dry meat that's mostly gray, brown, and pale pink. Some people prefer that, but if you're going for bright pink you'll want to remove it from the oven well below 135.
posted by reeddavid at 12:23 AM on April 22, 2017

Response by poster: Okay! I just carved it up, and it wasn't too bad! It isn't perfect -- I can see some fat that probably should have come off -- but I quit while I was ahead and it looked 90% like the tenderloin in the picture, and figured people could cut out fatty bits themselves, not the end of the world. Getting the center cut was pretty easy, and cutting up the narrow tip for stir fry was very easy. The fat end and its "wing" were tougher. I got four filets pretty easily (for the four people in my family with teeth), but the rest I was a bit befuddled by because of all the intermixed meat, fat, gristle, and connective tissue. So I got what meat I could and chunked it for later use in stew or stir fry (I was not getting very large pieces). I saved the fat and tissue and so on to make a stock from. So that went pretty well for a first try! I got the tenderloin, four filets, a stir-fry's worth of meat, a stew's worth of meat, and a bunch of random stuff for stock. The center-cut loin is all salted and sitting in my fridge, ready for tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

I let you know after tomorrow if I would do this again or just have the butcher do it next time. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:02 PM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Success! I used this recipe. The meat came out really well and the sauce was FANTASTIC. The meat was a little closer to medium than medium rare (because my meat thermometer was having a crisis of confidence), but absolutely delicious, and now I have lots of other meat to cook!

Thank you guys for rescuing my tenderloin! Here's my fancy table when we sat down, no close up of the tenderloin but you can see it sitting there waiting to be delicious.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:02 PM on April 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

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