Due to its unique composition, beef tenderloin responds well to high doses of dry heat. The challenge, whether broiling, sautéing, frying, smoking, roasting, or grilling, all comes down to heat control. You see, once the internal temperature of the tenderloin moves into the 140 range, the going gets risky. Because the meat can go from juicy and delicious to mealy and desert-dry in no time flat. I get around this by using a dual-temperature method. But unlike larger roasts which I start low and finish high, for tenderloin I start high and finish low like this.
Grab a baking pan or a loaf pan and sprinkle in one and a half teaspoons each of kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. And then just for fun, toss in a teaspoon of ground cumin, freshly-ground if at all possible. Then take your roast, and simply roll it thusly just to ensure good even spice coverage. And we're going to let this sit at room temperature for about half an hour to an hour.
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground
1 tsp. Freshly Ground Cumin
Center Cut Tenderloin Roast,
1 to 1 1/4 Pounds
That's right, room temperature for half an hour to an hour. I mean, for one thing we need this to be at room temperature when it hits the heat or else we won't have as even of doneness. We also need time for the salt to pull water-soluble proteins to the surface of the meat because that's going to enhance browning. Now to those would-be food police out there that think that that's too long in the zone let me just say that this meat has been sealed up in a plastic bag since before it left the factory. Even if some dreadful pathogen ...
PATHOGEN: [puppet pops up and taunts AB] Rrwoaooworrhghg.
... had managed to survive that environment—which I seriously doubt—it would probably only be on the surface of the meat which we have just liberally coated with salt.
AB: [throws kosher salt at the Pathogen]
P: Auggghh! [leaves]
So relax and step into my grill.
Drop a big juicy steak onto a grill and it will immediately go to sizzling and
hissing. And that is because of three different types of heat have gone to work,
the most dramatic of which is conduction. You see, if you've properly pre-heated
your grill, these metal grates will be very, very, very hot, and through direct
contact, that heat will move into the meat. And you're going to get those nice
handsome grill marks from that; very effective, conduction.
But there's a lot more going on here. For instance, there is radiant energy. Heat waves, literally moving straight off of the burning charcoal or the gas flames, emanating upwards. They are what heated the bars to begin with. But now they are going to work on the exposed parts of the meat. And of course there's convection. You see, there's a lot of air down here, and as it gets hot from being near the coals or flames, it gets energized, moves upward, and that also creates a nice, dry heat on the exposed surfaces of the meat.
And of course, the spaces themselves are important. These spaces allow moisture to leave the meat and fat to drip down onto the coals or flames. That creates a flavorful smoke that drifts upwards almost like an airborne marinade. This is a very complicated and unique environment that cannot be imitated. Well, you can mimic certain portions of it. [was standing on the hot coals, leaves] Ow. Ooohh.
Which US state produces the most charcoal?
[we interrupt AB playing with a small camera that he is using to inspect his
teeth] Ahem, sorry. Although the grill environment is indeed unique, as you can
see with the grill pan, we can imitate a lot of the same attributes. For
instance, take a look at these raised ridges. They will do some mighty fine
searing much like the grill rods on our other device. If you look down in that
cut-out trench area, that metal will give out a good bit of radiant energy even
though it's not actually touching the meat. And of course, that's also a nice
place for juices from the meat to gather. And when they gather down there,
they'll get hot enough to actually partially pyrolysize, that is, burn and turn
into smoke. And that smoke will go up and further flavor the meat.
Now when searching for a grill pan, there are some attributes that I recommend. For one thing, you want to be looking for cast iron. I don't think that there's any metal on earth that can suck up heat and dose it out the way that cast iron does. Of course, we want to see very delineated grill ridges. You want to look for low sides. The way I see it, high sides would only get in the way of tongs or spatulas. It's not like we're going to be deep-frying in this thing. A nice square shape is also good for reasons that will soon reveal themselves. And I really personally dig this handle that snaps on and off. As you can see, there's a hinge right there; it's easily removable. It's just a wire with kind of a rubber coating. It makes it very easy to store. You can pop it off when it goes in the oven and, of course, it's extremely light. Now excuse me a second, I've just got something in my teeth here [resumes inspecting his teeth].
Of course, a pan like this is worthless without heat. Oww. You'll need to load this guy up with high heat for, I'd say, five to seven minutes before you introduce the meat to the pan. Oh, and here's a little trick. I really hate having to scrub out these little grooves, so a little bit of kosher salt down in there will catch any goo that shows up down there. And it makes the pan a lot easier to clean up. And don't worry about it burning. It's a rock!
Now the meat is going to need a little bit of oil, to enhance browning and deter any sticking. Any vegetable oil will definitely do the trick. And we don't need a lot, just a little. Now, we place the roast.
|1 tsp. Vegetable Oil|
Now my strategy here is to place the roast at one side of the pan, and slowly
roll it across, and when it comes out on the other side, it'll be nice and
seared. The trip will take a couple of minutes, but it's well worth it.
Well, eight minutes have passed and we have a nice sear all the way around. So I'm going to kill the heat and move the meat off so it can cool down for 10 or 15 minutes. And that'll be just enough time for our oven to come up to 250 degrees.
Why such a low temperature and why rest the meat in the first place? Because, if we were to just rush off this hot piece of meat to a fast oven—say, a 450 degree oven—we'd end up with a cooking profile like this [pulls down a doneness map of a cross-section of the roast]. See, we would have our sear on the outside, but then beneath that, we would have a layer of well done, beneath that, a layer of medium well done, and then some medium, and then right in the middle, a little bitty patch of happiness.
I think we can do better than that by going with a cool piece of meat and a cooler oven [pulls down another doneness map]. We still have our sear. We have a little medium well/medium, and then we have this giant expanse of medium rare. And that's what I call good eats.
As soon as your roast is cooled down, you can put it right back on the grill pan and park it in your heated oven.
Now we will require some thermal monitoring here and that's something that I always do when I'm roasting tenderloin. So fetch down your favorite probe thermometer and insert the business end at a diagonal ...
AB: [to the roast] You're going to feel a little pressure.
... until you're pretty sure that the tip is right in the middle of the mass. Now I'm not really concerned about carry-over heat here, since this is a relatively small piece of meat. So, I'm going to set this to go off at 135 degrees. Oh, and make sure you take your handle.
When the thermometer says "beep, beep, beep", time to extract the beef thusly.
We're just going to wrap this up in heavy-duty aluminum foil and let it sit
quietly for half an hour before carving. Again, a thin, relatively long knife will make this an easy and
attractive task. You know, this is probably the only meat dish that I can think
of that is better at room temperature, or chilled even, than it is warm. Now I
like to slice a few in thick slabs, but I want to make sure I've got enough left
over to cut thin and toss into salads.
You know, I tend to agree with Cervantes who wrote, La mejor salsa del mundo es la hambre. Or, "Hunger is the best sauce in the world." Of course, if you do have to have steak sauce, why not put it in the middle?
Let's say that you took what I call the head roast, and you sliced it open, and then sliced it open a couple more times. Kind of opened it up into a kind of book, and let's say that you seasoned that, applied a little bit of oil, and then seared it thoroughly on both sides. And then you let it cool for 15 minutes.
Head Roast of Tenderloin,
1 to 1 1/2 Pounds
Brush with Olive Oil
|Then, let's say you smeared three ounces of blue cheese on the inside, and then rolled it and tied it. And notice I'm using surgeon's knots to sear that.||3 Ounce Blue Cheese|
|Just three pieces will do. And let's say you stash that in a 450 degree oven until the center reached 125 degrees. Now what if you covered it with foil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes, and then cut.||450 Degrees|
Now there, my friends, is a steak sauce I can get behind.
Gorgonzola, Stilton, Shropshire and Cambozola are all blue cheeses.
GUESTS: Two Lawyers
[AB is looking at two paintings, he turns to the camera] You like
them? They're by an Italian renaissance painter named Vittore Carpaccio. He was
famous for his use of red in his compositions. An exhibit of his work during the
1950's inspired the owner of Venice's Harry's Bar, Giuseppe Cipriani, to invent
a dish that would capture just that hue. He named it, aptly enough, "carpaccio",
and it was built on a bed of raw beef.
[the walls separate revealing that AB is actually in the kitchen] That being the case, the "Good Eats" legal team has requested that I read to you a little disclaimer.
LAWYERS: [both open briefcases]
AB: [takes out a sheet of paper from both] Thank you boys.
"The following dish contains raw beef the consumption of which could be hazardous to your health. Although it is truly delicious, we strongly suggest that you don't eat this dish nor do you serve it to your family."
AB: Guys, this is a little extreme. We're not talking about drive-through ground
beef here. We're talking about beef sub-primals which are very low on the old
danger threshold, especially since they've been in cryo bags all this time.
Look, guys, just buy your beef from reliable sources, and...
L: [wrestle AB to the ground]
[video test pattern with AB as the Indian Head]
AB: [trickle of blood coming out of his mouth still on the
floor surrounded by the lawyers]
Uh, sorry about that technical difficulty, folks. If you are really concerned
about food sanitation, almost freeze the meat then sear it in a hot pan all the
way around and then quickly return it to the freezer to stop the cooking. The
center will remain raw but any bacteria on the outside will be dead. Now, for
the sake of historical preservation, I will prepare my carpaccio the old way,
Professional stunt cook in closed kitchen. No real cooks were harmed during the making of this scene.
L: [let go of AB, begin to clean up
AB: [holds up his crossed fingers] Yeah, I'll never eat it. Never eat it.
When prepping for carpaccio, always deep-chill the meat in the freezer for at
least two hours. You don't want it to be so cold that it's crunchy when you cut
into it, because crunchy means ice and ice makes things mushy. But the firmer
it is, the easier it is going to be to slice thin and that is the first thing
that we are going to do. For each serving, we'll do five of the thinnest slices
we can muster.
[begins to slice without unwrapping the meat from the plastic] And no, I didn't forget. I really like to slice with the plastic on. The way I look at it, it puts a little pressure on the meat, and that makes it easier to cut. And you can just pull the pieces of plastic off as if they were tinsel. Also, make sure you use the full length of your knife when you cut. There, that's enough for one serving.
Now, we move on to the second part of the stage show. We have a long piece of plastic wrap here, and I'm going to take my trusty water spritzer and just lay down a little bit of water so that it will hold this plastic in place. Then we will spritz again, right on top of the plastic. That's going to provide a little lubrication. Now lay out your pieces in a tight little—I guess it would be a polygon [sic, pentagon], five sides? Yeah, there you go—so that they just barely overlap. And make sure that you make it big enough so that you can fit the last piece right into the middle so that you've got kind of a big disk of meat. There.
Now just a little spritz of water on top of that, again, for lubrication, so the plastic will slide easily. And then another spritz on top of the plastic. We're looking to have everything stick, but we don't want things to be tacky. We want them to slide.
Now a lot of folks would just kind of bang on that with a meat pounder. But I like to use a [pie] pan and a good old friend, the meat mallet. Just lay that [pie pan] down, right on top, and gently, gently, tap out [with the meat mallet]. And notice I'm going to go around the outside, and then work the inside. I'm going to slide the plate off. That looks just right. And I'll plate: and we'll peel back this plastic, lay the plate upside down, kind of seal the plastic over the plate, and flip the whole thing over. There. Now you could just take this straight to the refrigerator and hold it for later. But if you want to go ahead and dress and serve, peel off the plastic.
[opens the fridge and does the rest of the scene on the top shelf] Now I have to tell you, I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to dressing this thing. I like to go with just a little bit of drizzle of extra virgin olive oil—not too much—maybe a little bit of kosher salt which I always keep here in the refrigerator, some grinds of black pepper, nice and coarse. I like that. You want more? Alright, well, I'll go you [sic] some lemon juice. That would certainly be in keeping with tradition, as would a little bit of Parmesan cheese, always shaved, and never grated. Okay, maybe a small salad right in the middle, but I'm telling you, that's all. Any more than that, and things are just going to be too gosh darn fancy. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a snack to eat.
AB: [beings to take a bite]
L: [one seizes AB again and drags him away before he can eat the carpaccio]
L: [the other retrieves the dish and closes the fridge]
Other traditional accompaniments for carpaccio include
capers, horseradish, and marinated artichoke hearts.
Once upon a time, I think it was 1930, in southern Philadelphia, a guy named
Olivieri had a little sandwich shop. And one day he got hungry; he wanted to
make some lunch. But he didn't want to cook up any of the stuff that he would
sell to customers. So he looked around and he had a few scraps of steak that he
had been kind of hoarding over a few days. And so he chopped them up and he
threw them out on this little griddle that he cooked on there by the street. And
a couple of minutes later, a cabbie stopped by, smelled it, said, "Wow. I want
some of that." And so Olivieri said, "Okay." And he got a hoagie bun out, a hoagie
roll, and he put some of the meat on there, and he gave it to him. And the
cabbie said, "Hey, you know, Olivieri, your hot dogs aren't too good, but
this stuff is great!" And off he went. And so this is why, we today, have the Philly
Now in 1948, he added cheese to the equation, giving us the Philly cheese steak. Now you're wondering what all this has to do with something like beef tenderloin. Well, remember that side meat, the chain, the thing that I said that cooks usually save for themselves? Well, if you were to lay that guy out and pick off the bigger pieces of fat, maybe take off some of the silver skin. And let's say that you maybe covered it with plastic and pounded it out with a meat mallet, you might end up with something that looks like this. [unwraps a very flat piece of meat]
And if you did have something that looked like this, you could, say, put it in a bowl and add a little bit of oil. You could use olive oil or just vegetable oil, kind of lube that down a bit. Add a little bit of kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper, toss that around to evenly distribute the seasoning goodness there, and introduce it to your very hot griddle.
6-8 Ounces Chain Meat From
1 tsp. Olive Oil
Kosher Salt + Freshly Ground
There. Now let this get a good sear before you start fussing around with it. And then turn it over when it's good and brown. Total cooking time should be no more than eight minutes. When the meat is done, fold up a nice piece of heavy-duty foil, and remove. Now the thing here is that we want to wrap this up tight, so that the meat can rest. That'll help to soften a little bit of connective tissue that's in it. We also want to trap all of the juices which are going to be vital ingredients in our final sandwich.
Now we'll add a little bit of oil to the griddle and bring on one onion, julienned nice and fine, please. Now you can either use your tongs to cook this, or you can break out your griddle spat.
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Julienned
There. When the onions are just about done, as these are, we will turn our
attention to the meat which needs to be chopped up. We're just going to lay
that out on the board. There we go. Save any juice. That's good for later. And
we're going to need a pretty big knife. And not only did I bring a pretty big
knife, I brought two. Ha ha ha ha ha. Here's how you go to town on some cheese
steak. [begins to rapidly chop the meat]
There, that should be enough for a couple of sandwiches. Now I am a traditionalist, so I will go with the typical hoagie roll, and I am just going to pack as much meat as I can possibly stand in there. A good Philly steak sandwich should look like it's about to bust. Now this would be the time to contemplate cheese because you want to use the residual heat from the meat to melt it. American singles are actually traditional, but I kind of like French mimolette. It's kind of like cheddar only better. Call me continental. Ha ha.
Now the onions are the last thing to go on. Nice and steaming, right on top, and you have got to kind of push them down on there. You can see why I'm doing this outdoors because I always seem to spill them. Ahh, there we go. Now that is a Philly cheese steak to win over a man's heart.
Well, I certainly hope that these couple of tenderloin shows have changed your heart about an ingredient that some people consider to be a luxury. And indeed, tenderloin is expensive. But you know what? If you shop it right and you eat every molecule, I think you'll find that it's a delicacy that you just can't afford to live without. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take my trusty rod and reel here and go catch a sturgeon, so I can get to work on that caviar show. See you next time, on Good Eats.
Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger
*trans, "It's the beef." or "Such is the beef."
Last Edited on 08/27/2010