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The Best Beef Tenderloin Recipe

Beef tenderloin is widely known as the most tender cut of beef and is one that is often served at special events or occasions. Because the meat is so tender it also earns the badge of one of the most expensive cuts of meat to purchase.

However, with just one bite you will know exactly why this tender and juicy roast has become a favorite among many. Although the beautiful presentation of a medium-rare sliced tenderloin nestled in a chef’s carving board might have you questioning whether or not that you could cook it perfectly at home, have no fear.

It is actually one of the easiest cuts of beef to cook. However, because the meat is packaged and sold in a variety of cuts, it is important to know exactly what you are looking for before going shopping.

medium rare beef tenderloin
Beef tenderloin is best when it cooks to medium-rare. However you an adjust the cooking time to get it to the level of doneness to your liking.

What Is Beef Tenderloin?

The tenderloin is oblong in shape and it spans across two primal cuts of the cow, the short loin and the sirloin. The long slender muscle sits beneath the ribs next to the backbone.

Because it does hot get much use, it has very little fat intertwined between the muscle fibers. Therefore, it is the most tender part of the beef.

The large tenderloin is often cut down down to make individual steaks. This is where the popular T-bone, porterhouse, and the upscale filet mignon steaks comes from.

However when kept whole the tenderloin often gets cooked and served at special occasions. You will often see tender medium-rare slices of the beef at corporate parties, holiday parties and upscale dining establishments.

Three Different Cuts of Beef Tenderloin

However, before walking into the grocery store to purchase a tenderloin, you must first decide what cut of tenderloin that you would like to purchase. Whole beef tenderloins are broken down into 3 different cuts.

1. The Head

Ironically, the head of the tenderloin actually comes from the area closest to the cow’s back end. It is the larger section of the tenderloin.

This is the area that is often cut into steaks and is the first to be removed from the tenderloin itself.

2. The Tail

The tail is the smaller, skinner section that is often referred to as the point. If cut away from the beef tenderloin it is often cut into small medallions or into beef tips.

However, don’t get confused on the difference between beef tips and the more popular and less expensive stew meat. They are actually very different cuts of meat that require different cooking methods.

connective tissue on meat
An entire beef tenderloin with the head, center and tail.

Although the tail is often cut away from the center portion of the tenderloin, it is sometimes left on to sell a larger tenderloin. When attached, it is best to tuck the smaller portion into the center and tie it with butcher’s twine for even cooking.

3. The Center Cut

Often referred to as the barrel cut, this is the large, round middle section of a beef tenderloin. This area is the most popular cut of the tenderloin. It is the same one that you will commonly see in grocery stores and the most often served at restaurants.

However, in order to get the center cut isolated, the butcher must do a lot of cutting and trimming. Therefore, this will also be the most expensive cut of meat purchase.

The barrel cut is even in shape and is often the perfect amount for 6-8 guests. It roasts up perfectly and when made into 1/2 inch slices it makes for a beautiful dinner presentation.

Whole Beef Tenderloin

However, if you are looking for the most economical way to serve beef tenderloin at your next holiday dinner, it is best to purchase a whole tenderloin. Although it will take a little work to trim the beef, it is fairly easy when using a filet knife.

Not only will you save money per pound, you will also have a large whole tenderloin to feed a crowd. Or, you will have various cuts of meat that you can cook at a later time.

How To Trim Whole Beef Tenderloin

Trimming a whole beef tenderloin doesn’t require any special tools. A sharp filet or boning knife is ideal, however it can be done with any sharp trimming knife.

center cut beef
Beef tenderloin only needs a few simple spices to taste amazing.

1. Remove The Chain

Between the head and tail, nearly at the surface of the tenderloin, there is an extra piece of meat. This is called the chain and needs to be removed before cooking the tenderloin.

You can do this easily by slicing the fat around one end and pulling in the opposite direction. Once removed, be sure to trim the remaining fat away from the chain and save the meat for a Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry dinner.

2. Remove The Thick Connective Tissue

Now it is time to remove that thick outer layer of connective tissues that surrounds the beef tenderloin. Start by running the knife under the white fibers and slowly slice the tissue away from the meat.

As soon as the blade runs through to the other side, tip the knife so that the end is pointing downward and slice in one direction. Once you create a flap, position the knife in the opposite direction, holding the flap as you cut.

Pull the flap off and continue to cut the connective tissue using this method until it is fully removed.

3. Remove Fat Pockets

Beneath the connective tissue barrier you will find little pockets of fat hiding right beneath the surface. Remove the fat but cutting it away from the meat.

4. Remove The Flat Fat End

On the wider end of the beef tenderloin, there will be a pocket of fat between the two sections of meat. If you plan on roasting the entire tenderloin, remove this layer of fat.

However, if you are cooking only the center cut, trim off this entire section. Then trim off the tail so that you have an even section of the meat, called the barrel.

searing meat in skillet
To trap in the flavor and moisture be sure to sear the meat before it goes in the oven.

5. Tie The Tenderloin

Before you cook an entire tenderloin, you must fold and tie the meat so that it cooks evenly. Do this by tucking in the leaner end and tie it to the center of the roast using butcher’s twine.

This will allow the roast to cook evenly, creating the perfect level of doneness throughout.

How Much Beef Tenderloin Per Person

Although the general rule of beef servings per person is typically 8 ounces (or 1/2 pound) of meat per person that is not the case here. Because this common recommendation is based on raw weight and accounts for shrinkage during the cooking process.

However, since beef tenderloin is a lean, boneless cut of meat, there will be little shrinkage. Therefore, you can plan on reducing the recommendation to 6 ounces per person.

This will allow each person 2 to 3 slices of tenderloin. This is the perfect amount considering there will be side dishes at the meal as well.

The Best Beef Tenderloin Recipe

*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • Whole beef tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C). Trim the beef tenderloin. Cut all the fat, silver sheath and the side panel of meat off the tenderloin.

*If your tenderloin was already trimmed, be sure to allow the meat to come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Cut out the center of the tenderloin by removing the top and bottom portions, leaving only the center portion if desired. Otherwise it is best to tie the beef tenderloin into even thickness using butcher’s twine.

Then season each side and the ends of the tenderloin generously with salt and pepper. Let tenderloin sit for 10 minutes so that the seasoning has time to set.

slices of medium rare beef
Be sure to slice the tenderloin against the grain. This will give you the most tender and mouth watering sections of meat.

In a large skillet on medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, brown the tenderloin on each side and on the ends.

Then place the tenderloin in a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking dish. Top with slices of butter.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the center internal temperature reaches 130°F (55°C) when checked with an Instant Read Digital Thermometer. Remove the beef from the oven, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Slice the tenderloin across the grain and serve warm.

Enjoy!

Mary and Jim

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Best Beef Tenderloin Recipe

the best beef tenderloin recipe

This simple and easy recipe makes the absolute BEST Beef Tenderloin that is moist, juicy and melt in your mouth tender.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Inactive Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole beef tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C).
  2. Trim the beef tenderloin by removing all the fat, silver sheath and side panel of meat. Cut out the center of the tenderloin by removing the top and bottom portions, leaving only the center portion.
  3. Season each side and the ends of the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes so that the seasoning has time to set.
  4. In a large skillet on medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, brown the tenderloin on each side and on the ends.
  5. Place the tenderloin in a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking dish. Top with slices of butter.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the center internal temperature reaches 130°F (55°C).
  7. Remove the beef from the oven, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  8. Slice the tenderloin across the grain and serve warm.

Notes

Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 84Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 383mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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