The $100 Dinner: Beef Tenderloin

I never said that meals I posted here would be of the frugal variety, yet this one ended up being so, as far as special occasion meals go.  Sweet Baboo and I decided we’d stay in this Valentine’s Day, as money was a bit tight this go round and we didn’t feel like being subject to restaurant specials and all that stuff that goes along with the holiday.

So yesterday while we were doing our usual weekly grocery shopping at Central Market, I decided to pick up something special for a Valentine’s Day dinner to treat SB and myself to.  Central Market just so happened to have beef tenderloin on sale, which I elected over ribeye for its lower fat content.  While I love a good ribeye (and truly, who doesn’t?), I was aiming for a cut of beef with less fat but that would still have fantastic flavor.  Mind you, I only fed two of us, so that is one factor that kept the cost down, but honestly, if we had gone out to eat at our usual favorite fancy steakhouse for the same cut of meat, we would have easily spent $40+ each for the steak alone.  After we ate, SB said, “You should call this the Hundred Dollar Dinner, because that’s probably how much it all would have cost if we’d have gone out.”

We estimated that had we gone out to eat for this meal, we would have easily paid over $100 for both of us to eat! Would you believe this dinner for two was less than $30?

And would you believe it was less than $30, including the sides?  Here is the centerpiece of our Valentine’s dinner:

The most prized part of a cow, the tenderloin is best cooked by searing it first in a hot skillet, then rubbed with spices and then roasted briefly at high heat.

I ended up buying a tenderloin that was a little over 1 pound, figuring roughly 8 ounces of beef per person, once cooking had taken place.  It ended up being the perfect size for both of us, and was rather easy to cook.  I’d always been afraid to cook a tenderloin, as cooking beef is not my forte.  I did a bit of research before heading into the kitchen to try and make this lovely piece of meat taste like it had come out of a restaurant kitchen.  Once I’d actually gone through the motions and cooked it, it turned out to be so much easier than I’d imagined.  You can do it too!  Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • 1-1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 2 and 1
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Additional spices of your choosing

If you buy your tenderloin from a meat counter, do yourself a favor and get the meatcutter/butcher to remove the silvery membrane on the outside.  If this is left on, it will cause your tenderloin to curl up, and is tough to cut and chew.  Where I purchased mine, the tenderloin was already trimmed, so I did not have to worry about this.

Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for approximately 30-45 minutes before beginning to cook.  Once the meat has reached room temperature, blot it dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture as any moisture on the outside will interfere with the browning process when you sear it.  Sprinkle the outside liberally with salt and pepper.  Remember, you are only seasoning the outside so it is okay to overseason the meat.

In a skillet heated to medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they just reach smoking.  Using a set of tongs, place the tenderloin in the pan and allow it to brown for 6 or 7 minutes on each side so a nice brown crust develops.  This part takes about 20-25 minutes, but is well worth the investment.

Once you’re done searing the loin, allow it to rest on a rack set inside a baking sheet for about 10 minutes.  During this time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

After the meat has rested for 8-10 minutes, sprinkle more salt, pepper and whatever other spices you like on it.  Brush with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and put it in the oven.  For a rare tenderloin roast, cook for 15-20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the meatiest portion reaches 120 degrees.   Remove the tenderloin from the oven and let it rest under foil, where it will continue cooking, for about 10 minutes.  Don’t cut into it as soon as you remove it from the oven, or you run the risk of a dry piece of meat as all the juices will run out.

As expensive a piece of meat as this is, you don’t want to mess it up by being anxious to cut into it right away!  Let it rest, and allow it to finish cooking and you will be richly rewarded.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the recipe for the bourbon cream mushroom sauce that accompanied Sweet Baboo’s dinner, which he said was outstanding.  I’ll take him at his word, since I’m not a fan of fungi.

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3 responses to “The $100 Dinner: Beef Tenderloin

  1. This looks SOOOOOO good. One day I’ll attempt making steak!

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