From America's Test Kitchen Season 10: Making Meat and Potatoes for Company
There’s nothing like the buttery texture of a roasted beef tenderloin. Ideally, it has rosy meat all the way through and a deep brown crust; too often, though, this roast has only one or the other. We wanted a technique that produced perfectly cooked and deeply flavored meat—without too much fuss.
Tenderloins come whole or center-cut, and the obvious choice was the latter; it’s already trimmed, and it lacks the narrow “tail” of the whole cut. We first tried searing the meat in the oven as many recipes recommend, but it never browned evenly and came out with a gray band of overcooked meat around the edge. Stovetop browning was better for producing a crust, but the roast still came out of the oven with that same gray band. The trick was to reverse the process, first roasting the meat in the oven, then searing at the end. The warmer surface of the meat browned in less time and so didn’t overcook. Lowering the oven temperature eliminated the ring of overcooked meat altogether. To add flavor to this mild cut of beef, a simple technique of salting it before roasting worked wonders; rubbing the roast with a little softened butter added richness. A flavored butter served alongside was the final touch. With its uniformly rosy meat, deep brown crust, and beefy flavor, this beef tenderloin was worthy of its price tag.
Serves 4 to 6
If using table salt, reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon. Ask your butcher to prepare a trimmed, center-cut Châteaubriand from the whole tenderloin, as this cut is not usually available without special ordering. If you are cooking for a crowd, this recipe can be doubled to make two roasts. Sear the roasts one after the other, wiping out the pan and adding new oil after searing the first roast. Both pieces of meat can be roasted on the same rack.