Table of Contents
Special occasions call for dishes that are not always made, especially the ones that show something out of the ordinary. Beef tenderloin is pretty much enjoyed about one time a year, and that oftentimes it is for the Christmas holiday.
For a few years, it was a tradition that I would make a beef ribeye roast for the family. Ribeye is a hefty roast with large ribbons of fat. But I find that it always makes a mess and is cumbersome to slice. The slices are large and take up too much real estate on the plate. And honestly, I just don’t like the cut.
A beef tenderloin is magical. Tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef, with small veins of fat that melt into the meat during roasting. This creates an almost melt-in-your-mouth slice of meat. And a little bit of extra preparation goes a long way in making a special occasion that much more memorable.
The ingredients that make up this beef tenderloin
- Center-cut beef tenderloin is the star of the show. Ask your butcher for a center cut so the roast is evenly-shaped, which will ensure even roasting. Tenderloin is a splurge and only needs a few minor enhancements to bring out the flavor.
- Salt is key to any meat and salting ahead of time gives the seasoning time to work into the meat. This helps retain the meat’s natural juices and bring out even more flavor.
- Baking soda, but we’re not not making a dessert. Baking soda helps brown and create a crust on the roast. Just a small amount makes all the difference.
- Garlic is roasted in its husk until caramelized and soft. This makes it easy to rub on the outside of the tenderloin. Plus, roasting mellows out the sharpness of the garlic and helps it not overpower the entire dish.
- Coarse black pepper is mixed with the roasted garlic for a simple crust on the tenderloin. The thicker, coarse grind is important so that the pepper has more heft and doesn’t disappear into the meat.
- Red onion plays a sweet part in the sauce reduction. Red onions have a sweeter, light onion flavor and the color lends well with the red wine.
- Beef stock is slowly reduced in the sauce for a rich beef flavor. Most likely, not many of us have homemade stock in the freezer, so Better Than Boullion is my go-to.
- Red wine complements the beef stock in the sauce. The tanins and robust flavor are reduced with the stock for a full, round sauce. Any red wine you enjoy will work. If you’re not a drinker, I always prefer merlot.
- Cornstarch helps provide some body to the reduced sauce. While the sauce does reduce and condense flavors, there is no body. A simple water and cornstarch slurry stirred in at the end gives a little bit of thickness without being gloppy.
The best part of this beef tenderloin is that the preparations are fairly easy. A good cut of meat should not need too much handling or alterations. Instead, the flavor of the beef itself comes through and the result is a tender and delicious main dish.
The only drawback is that guests will be asking for this all the time and that can add up! Happy holidays!
Watch how to make this beef tenderloin recipe
Peppercorn Crusted Beef Tenderloin
- 2 lb center-cut beef tenderloin
- 2 ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (vegetable also works)
- 2 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
For the sauce
- ¾ cup minced red onion
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 1 ½ cups red wine
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 ½ tsp cornstarch
- In a small bowl, combine the salt and baking soda. Sprinkle evenly all over the entire beef tenderloin. Set on a small baking sheet, cover, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.2 ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp baking soda, 2 lb center-cut beef tenderloin
- While the tenderloin is in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut off the top of the head of garlic, exposing all of the tips of the cloves. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil and wrap tightly in a piece of aluminum foil. Place in the oven until the garlic is caramelized, soft, and golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Once caramelized, remove from the oven and allow to cool.1 head garlic
- In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the onion, beef stock, red wine, thyme, rosemary, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, 45-55 minutes. Once reduced, combine the water and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth and then whisk into the reduced sauce. Return the sauce to a simmer to activate the cornstarch and thicken slightly. Keep warm until ready to serve.¾ cup minced red onion, 1 ½ cups beef stock, 1 ½ cups red wine, 1 sprig thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp water, 2 ½ tsp cornstarch
- After 1 hour, remove the beef tenderloin from the refrigerator. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Heat 2 tbsp of neutral oil (grapeseed oil works well) in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the beef tenderloin. Sear the tenderloin on all sides to form a crust. The tenderloin will stick to the skillet at first, but once it easily releases, it is ready to turn, 2-3 minutes per side. Once seared, remove from the heat.1 tbsp grapeseed oil (vegetable also works)
- In a small bowl, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the husk. Mix with the coarse black pepper to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the seared tenderloin. Place the tenderloin in the oven and roast until the desired internal temperature is reached (125°F for medium-rare, 130°F for medium, 140°F for well), 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with the warm sauce.2 tbsp coarse ground black pepper