Sunday, October 9, 2016

Beef Tenderloin Sale

Beef tenderloin is a cut of beef that is reserved for special occasions and at certain times of year it goes on sale.  If you see one, calculate your cost per serving and see if its worth picking up.  This week I paid under thirty dollars for a 5 pound beef tenderloin.  After butchering into tournedo steaks and chateaubriand roasts I netted out with at least 12 servings at $2.50 each.  

With no special occasion on the near horizon, I could have frozen the whole thing to serve at the holidays.  A beef tenderloin roasted slowly on low and served with a little horseradish sauce is a treat for hosts and guests.  But at $2.50 per serving I thought it would be nice to create several weekend meals for our small household instead.  

Most likely the beef tenderloin that you see at a great price has not yet been prepared for cooking.  The silver skin (connective tissue) needs to be removed and the chain, fattier meat running alongside, can be left on or removed for another use.  The procedure is simple.  Here's how its done:

Mastering Beef Tenderloin Preparation

  • Have on hand butcher's twine cut in 12-14 inch lengths, a sharpened knife and large cutting board.  I use a boning knife but you can also use a very sharp carving knife.  The blade should be thin and allow you to trim the silver away with precision.
  • Remove the beef from its package and wipe down with paper towels so the meat is dry and easy to handle.
  • Look for the chain, a fat encrusted sidecar running down the length of the tenderloin.  You will be able to pull it away partially with your hands.  Use your knife to cut away the rest from the main body.  Keep this to trim later.  It has some fat and tendon in it but can be braised.
  • Lay out the tenderloin so that the silver skin is on top.  This is a strip of connective tissue, not fat, that will not cook to tenderness so we cut it away.  
  • Lay your knife horizontal to the meat and with the tip nick in under the silver.  Wiggle and slide the knife between the tender beef and the thin sheath of silver skin.  Tilt the knife's edge toward the silver and slide the knife along the underside of the skin with the edge of the knife tilted up slightly. The silver will pull away from the beef neatly.  The first time you try this you may nick the meat a bit and pull small parts of the silver away but with a few cuts you will master the technique.  Be patient with yourself.
  • With the silver cut away, you can roast the beef as is, tied with butcher's twine every few inches and the small tail doubled over and tied to create a uniform piece of meat for even cooking.

  • Create a roast, known as a chateaubriand, with the fattest part of the tenderloin.  Cut 6-8 inches or follow the natural slope of the meat and cut up to the point that the meat gets smaller in diameter.  Tie this roast at intervals to create a uniform piece of meat for even cooking.
  • Make tournedos of beef wrapped in bacon by slicing steaks off the beef about 2 inches thick. Wind a slice of bacon around each and tie tightly with butcher's twine.
  • Finish up by trimming some of the fat and grizzle away from the chain.  You can yield about 1/2 pound of stew meat.
If you are not cooking the meat right away, freeze the prepared servings in quart or gallon freezer bags. Label the bags with the cut of beef and the date.  Use within 2 months.