Inexpensive crowd pleaser: Recipe for beef tenderloin with horseradish cream
They key to a great holiday party is a relaxed host. And that is easier than it sounds. All it takes is a little planning.
When I entertain, I make sure that all the food can be prepared and served or set out on a buffet with very little effort. At the very most, I include only one menu item that has to be cooked just before serving.
It also is economical because you can slice it thin and get 20 to 25 portions out of a single tenderloin. If you like, you can splurge and buy prime tenderloin. Or if you plan in advance you can employ my trick and “wet age” it yourself in the refrigerator, resulting in a tenderloin with great depth of flavour.
Home wet-aging is effortless and especially handy because you can buy the tenderloin when it is on sale and save it for a future party or parties. Make sure you purchase a tenderloin that has been shrink-sealed (no air in the packaging). Once the meat is exposed to air, you have to cook it or it will go bad.
But in airtight packaging, you can let the meat “age” in your refrigerator for up to six weeks. Many restaurants do this and you can really tell the difference in the end product.
I place a couple of tenderloins in the back of my meat drawer and turn them every couple of days. I then schedule an alert on my calendar for two, four and six weeks to remind me that they are in my refrigerator waiting to be cooked.
If I am feeling ambitious, I smoke the tenderloins with a combination of pecan and cherry wood and serve them chilled the next day. If I don’t have that much time, I sear them on the outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan and finish roasting them with indirect heat, either in the grill or in the oven.
The key to a perfect beef tenderloin is to season it simply and not overcook it. I take the meat out when the internal temperature reaches 55 C (130 F) and let it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes, the longer the better so that the juices redistribute and every slice is rosy pink with a soft, tender and buttery texture.
Beef tenderloin itself is a crowd pleaser, but I always have a couple of options to dress it up. My favourite is this very simple but light and tangy horseradish cream. I make it just before my guests arrive and set it out with the meat and a small selection of dinner rolls. Pumpernickel is my favourite, but seeded hard rolls, soft brioche and/or a crusty baguette also are good choices. Your guests can make their own sandwiches or eat the tenderloin simply with a dollop of the fluffy horseradish cream.
Holiday Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream
Start to finish: 2 hours (15 minutes active)
2.2-kg (5-lb) whole beef tenderloin
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
30 ml (2 tbsp) kosher salt
15 ml (1 tbsp) coarsely ground black pepper
2 ml (1/2 tsp) minced garlic
2 ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper
500 ml (2 cups) heavy cream
15 to 30 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) refrigerated, white prepared horseradish (not horseradish cream)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fine-grain sea salt
Remove meat from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 1 hour.
When meat is ready, use paper towels to dry it. Brush meat all over with a thin coat of olive oil. Set aside.
Heat a grill to high.
Rub: In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne. Sprinkle rub evenly over tenderloin.
Place tenderloin directly on cooking grate and sear for 2 minutes on each side over direct high heat. After all the sides are seared, reduce one side of the grill to medium and the other side to the lowest possible heat. Set meat over cooler side and grill for another 30 to 40 minutes for medium-rare, or until a thermometer inserted at the thickest spot reads 55 C (130 F).
Alternatively, the tenderloin can be seared in a large skillet on the stovetop, then set on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet and roasted at 180 C (350 F).
When tenderloin is done, transfer it to a platter, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
While beef rests, pour cream into a large stainless-steel bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip cream on high until it forms soft peaks. Add 15 to 25 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) of prepared horseradish. Taste and adjust, adding more horseradish if you like it stronger. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt.
Thinly slice beef and serve with horseradish cream and dinner rolls.
Makes 20 servings.
Nutrition information per serving, not including dinner rolls (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 380 calories; 280 calories from fat (74 per cent of total calories); 31 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 105 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein; 0 g fibre; 650 mg sodium.
Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including “Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned.”