There's no better time than the December holidays for a large, important meat roast — and in my humble opinion, there's no better roast than the beef tenderloin. I'm not the only one who believes this.
"Beef tenderloin is a special cut — it's prized because of its tenderness, yet it's incredibly lean. Because it's a solid muscle, it roasts and slices beautifully," Michaele Musel, culinary expert for Washington beef purveyor Double R Ranch, told me.
Since Michaele's prone to making holiday roasts more than once a year, I asked her to weigh in on everything tenderloin, from portion size to presentation. Here are a few things to bear in mind.
- First, make sure you've got the serving size right. "A general rule of thumb for the holidays is six ounces of cooked roast per person," Michaele said. That would mean a four- to five-pound roast to feed eight to ten people, or factoring in a slightly larger amount (six to eight pounds) if you're purchasing a rib roast for the same number of guests.
- Opt for a center cut beef tenderloin if you're new to the world of holiday roasts. "The center cut allows for even roasting and doneness," she explained — making it more than foolproof for a first-timer.
Keep reading for more thoughts on beef tenderloin.
- Sometimes the simplest way to prepare a cut is the best way, too. With so many elements of dinner to juggle, don't bother with anything too complicated. "I'm a big fan of fresh herb and sea salt rubs for roasting," said Michaele. "There are so many wonderful sea salts out there to experiment with." For a superspecial occasion, serve the beef alongside a red wine Cognac sauce for added decadence.
- Try cooking the beef "steakhouse style." This is Musel's go-to method, and it involves searing the meat in a cast-iron pan on all sides until browned, then finishing off the meat until it's reached a medium-rare doneness in the oven.
- But for the ultimate experience, try poaching in oil. "I like searing a rubbed roast, then poaching it in a combination of 70 percent grapeseed oil and 30 percent olive oil until medium rare. You'll end up with a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth roast — just be careful that the temperature of the oil doesn't reach about 120ºF, or you'll end up frying the roast and burning the rub."
- Go for rustic elegance when it comes to presentation. Michaele opts for carving tenderloin tableside on a cutting board garnished with fresh herbs, "Nothing beats the look on a guest's face as they watch the rosy slices fall back on the cutting board."
Have you ever made beef tenderloin at home for the holidays?