Culinary Waves: by Chef Mary Beth Lawton Johnson
In a yachting career that has spanned decades on board various private and charter yachts, I have cooked my fair share of beef. But there is one cut that works well in every scenario, from a picnic on the beach to a five-star, 10-course meal: the tenderloin.
Considered one of the tenderest cuts of beef, tenderloin doesn’t need to be cooked long. Ease of preparation is the best thing about this cut of meat. If you follow the directions, you can never overcook it.
Usually I buy a chateaubriand cut. If you can’t get that particular type of cut, have the butcher fabricate it, or do so yourself. It is a cut of beef from the thickest part of the tenderloin. It really is a roast.
Typically, a classic chateaubriand is served with a red wine sauce or demi-glacé sauce.
Originally created by Viacomte Chateaubriand’s personal chef in 1822 and so named, chateaubriand was created from sirloin. Chateaubriand is not actually the name of the cut, but rather the preparation method of the tenderloin beef. However, over time the nickname stuck, so if you ask a butcher for a chateaubriand cut, you will be understood.
Typically, a chateaubriand cut is supposed to weigh about 12 ounces and serve two. I, however, always serve more than two people at one meal, so I generally buy more.
What is the difference between a tenderloin and filet? The tenderloin is the large cut of meat; once it is sliced into steaks, it is called a filet.
You must remove the silverskin – the tough, chewy piece of connective tissue covering the top –and the petite tenderloin. Save the petite tenderloin for another recipe. There are a lot of videos online showing how to fabricate a tenderloin. Be sure to check that out before you attempt to fabricate one.
For those chefs who are timid about cooking a tenderloin for fear of overcooking it, this foolproof recipe is the answer to your prayers.
It’s simple, really. Rub olive oil over the tenderloin, add some salt and pepper, and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 250 F. Once it reaches that temperature, place the tenderloin in the oven. Roast it for 30 to 45 minutes. The temperature on a meat thermometer should read 130 F.
Keep it warm if not serving it right away. Serve with asparagus – and don’t forget the red wine sauce or demi-glacé sauce.
Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine, and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years. Comments are welcome below.