Why It Works
- Beef tenderloin, a lean and non-marbled cut, benefits from a flavorful marinade that's repurposed as a pan sauce.
- Searing the meat before it's finished in a high oven gives it a nicely-browned crust while keeping the lean meat moist and juicy inside.
- A bright and herb-laden horseradish cream adds an extra layer of flavor and richness.
The first time I made this dish was for Christmas dinner, and it was an instant hit. Who can resist buttery-tender beef tenderloin with a red wine marinade and not one, but two sauces: a pan sauce made with the drippings and extra marinade, and a parsley, dill, and mint-flecked horseradish cream?
Tenderloin is a showy dish; it's a luxury item with a price tag to match. The last thing you want to do is ruin an expensive piece of beef. At its best, it has a juicy, fine grain with a spoon-tender texture, but overcook it just a little bit and it turns dry and mealy. That's because its marbling—the intramuscular fat that gives heavier cuts like prime rib its intense beefy flavor and juiciness—is next to nil. It's also much milder in flavor than other beef roasts, so you'll want to find a way to bump that up. The red wine sauce helps take care of that, while the horseradish cream adds further flavor and plenty of richness.
First and foremost, you need to trim your meat. The "silver skin" will not break down in cooking, and the nubs of fat that cover the outside of a tenderloin aren't particularly appealing. Most good butchers can trim the meat for you, but if you want to do it yourself, all you need is a good, sharp boning knife and a bit of know-how.
Whole tenderloins also have an uneven shape with a fat knob on one end and a tapered tail on the other. To get them to cook evenly, you'll want to fold that tail back to even out the thickness along the length, then tie it off at two-inch intervals with pieces of butcher's twine to help it retain a nice round shape while cooking. Cutting the whole thing in half can also make cooking it easier.
I'll admit it: The cooking technique I use here—searing, then cooking with a bit of liquid in the pot—is not very common. On the surface, it seems almost like a braise, as the meat is cooking in a touch of simmering liquid, but the cook time and end result of rosy-red meat place it firmly in the category of roasts.
While some cooks prefer to do the browning in the oven, I find that doesn't always work—you run the risk of overcooking the interior, which can spell death to tenderloin. Instead, I quickly sear mine in a hot Dutch oven before transferring it to the oven to finish roasting. This gives me the added benefit of having some fond (those browned bits left at the bottom of the pan after searing) to help build up a flavorful base for my pan sauce. You could transfer the roast to a separate pan, but I just leave mine in the same Dutch oven—it continues to exchange flavor with the marinade while it roasts in the moist heat.
Once the meat is cooked, I take it out of the Dutch oven—the sauce will have reduced into an intense glaze (you may even need to add a bit of water to the pot while cooking so that it doesn't dry out), which I then enhance with a touch of beef broth and butter to emulsify.
While the beef roasts and rests, I throw together the horseradish sauce—a simple mix of sour cream, prepared horseradish, parsley, mint, and dill. Served all together, the beef is as tender and buttery as the best tenderloin roast you've had, with an intensely flavorful crust made all the richer by the horseradish sauce.
The best part? The leftovers are perfect served cold, tucked into a crusty baguette with a handful of peppery arugula leaves.
For the Beef:
1 whole (6-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat and silver skin
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 to 2 lemons, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 teaspoons fresh dill, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium beef or chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
For the Herb-Horseradish Cream:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves
Place trimmed beef tenderloin in a resealable bag. Add wine, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, 2 teaspoons dill, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Seal, squish around to combine, and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 4 to 6 hours.
When ready to cook, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Remove meat from refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Fold small end of tenderloin back on itself by a few inches to create an even thickness. Secure meat with kitchen twine at 2-inch intervals to create an evenly-sized roast.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large, oven-safe roasting pan or Dutch oven until shimmering. Sear meat until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Add marinade to the pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer meat to the oven to cook until meat reaches an internal temperature of 125°F (52°C) as registered on an instant-read thermometer for medium-rare, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove meat from oven, transfer to a platter and allow to rest for 10 minutes. While meat is resting, deglaze pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat, adding beef broth and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Swirl in butter to finish the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
In a small bowl, mix sour cream, horseradish, parsley, mint, remaining 2 teaspoons dill and remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Cut string from roast and discard. Slice meat and place on a platter. Drizzle with pan sauce and serve immediately with horseradish cream.
Roasting pan or Dutch oven, kitchen twine
The horseradish cream sauce may be made and refrigerated up to four hours ahead.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 10 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 67g||85%|
|Saturated Fat 27g||133%|
|Total Carbohydrate 2g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||12%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|