ON COOKING A WHOLE FILET OF BEEF
This is one of the most expensive cuts of beef, and one of the easiest to cook. Ruining it would be a shame on many counts. So:
- Make sure your butcher properly trims the roast. Any silver skin, that sometimes thick layer of silvery white connective tissue on the surface of the meat, must be removed. It will not tenderize during cooking, and it is not a pleasant chew. If you butcher does not remove it, do it yourself with a thin, flexible knife.
- Ask your butcher to tie the roast. Filets have a long, tapering end that is thinner than the other end of the roast. Roasted as is, the thin end will overcook waiting for the thick end to cease being raw. So, if you are roasting the entire tenderloin the butcher should tuck the thin end under and tie the roast into an even cylinder that is the same width throughout. If you are only roasting 3 to 4 pounds, be sure to ask for piece from the thick end (often called a center cut piece) not the skinny tail and asked to have it tied.
- Tenderloin, as its name suggests, is extremely tender, but it lacks flavor. Light seasoning results in a bland roast. So don’t hesitate to rub the roast liberally with sea salt, dried herbs, crushed garlic or other flavor enhancers. Sauces often accompany the roasts for the same reason, to fill any flavor deficit.
- DON’T OVERCOOK IT. Tenderloin is devoid of fat. That means that overcooking it will create very expensive, very dry, tough meat. Filets should be served rare or medium rare, not past 140* on the meat thermometer you should have on hand and use to prepare this. If a guest prefers well done filet, cut off a portion and leave it in the oven after you take the main roast out.
- Let the filet rest for 10 to 15 minutes after roasting to reabsorb its juices. If it is sliced immediately, the juices will run out onto the cutting board and your roast will dryer and less flavorful.