First post: Roast Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Mushrooms and Tarragon

Hey guys! Thanks for looking at my shitty blog. I’m glad you’re here. Let me introduce this food-based shouting platform with a disclaimer: I do not write recipes. I’m not a chef. I’m a human-esque eating machine. All the recipes on this site come from other sources, whether it’s my mom, your mom, an old cookbook, a new cookbook, or another (better) foodblog. I’ll always do my best to give the original source. My goal here is to prove that a normal human being can cook good food, and I hope that I can in some way encourage you to embark on a culinary expedition.

Our first adventure is going to be a doozy – a big-ass beef tenderloin in a creamy mushroom sauce. It blew my fucking mind. And, as always, it’s not as hard as it looks.

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Our story begins with a little trip over to Kansas City, KS to fraternize with the Future World Famous Best Medical Doctor and Pathologist Superstar, Melissa Krystel-Whittemore. She and I share a goal of eating all the food, all the time. She’s also a crossfit master with thighs of steel, but that’s another story for another time. Kansas City is great. We were hungover and decided to cook a tenderloin. The scene is now set.

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Roast Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Mushrooms and Tarragon
Adapted from allrecipes

  • 1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 pounds trimmed beef tenderloin roast OR center cut tenderloin, tied
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar (white wine vinegar is a totally fine substitute)
  • 1 cup veal stock (beef or chicken stock is a fine substitute)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Necessary equipment: Large, ovenproof skillet (no rubber or plastic on handle), meat thermometer
  1. Combine porcini mushrooms and water in a bowl; soak until soft, 1 hour. Remove mushrooms, but reserve liquid. Dice and set mushrooms and reserved liquid aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Place beef in the skillet; cook until nice and brown on all sides, which for me only took about 2 minutes per side. You want a fond to build up on the bottom of the pan – fond is a nice crust from the meat juices. Remove meat and set aside, but keep the pan on the heated stove.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in 1 tablespoon butter, shallots, and a pinch of salt; cook until shallots are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. For me, medium heat was too high due to the residual heat from cooking the meat, so be careful not to burn the shallots. Additional butter may be a good idea.
  5. Pour the vinegar into the skillet and bring to a boil while scraping any browned bits off of the bottom. Stir until liquid is reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes.
  6. Pour in veal stock, cream, 1/2 cup reserved mushroom liquid (strain before using – liquid may be a bit sandy from the mushrooms), mushrooms, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Return beef to the skillet.
  7. Roast in the preheated oven until meat is medium rare, about 45 minutes for a tenderloin roast, or 35 minutes for a center-cut tenderloin. A thermometer inserted into the center should read 130 degrees F (54 degrees C) for a medium-rare tenderloin. Transfer meat to a plate and loosely tent with foil for 10-15 minutes. Set skillet over high heat and bring sauce to a boil.
  8. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and tarragon; season with salt and pepper to taste. Return tenderloin and any accumulated juices to skillet and serve.

THE RUNDOWN:

1. Select your cut of meat.
Little did we know, a beef tenderloin actually has four different main cuts. There’s the Butt end and the Tail, both of which are variable in size and hence not generally good as whole roasts, and thus will not be components of our story today. Then there’s the Tenderloin Roast, which looks more or less like a tree stump made of meat. It’s a thick, boneless cylinder, and a 2.5 lb cut, which we need for this recipe, would be about 5-6 inches thick and 7 inches long. It generally has a bit of fat on it, which is either trimmed by the butcher, or by you. It’s less expensive than its fancy neighbor, the Center-cut Tenderloin Roast, which tends to be longer and thinner, as well as more consistent in thickness. There won’t be much extra fat, and generally the butcher will cut this and package it to order. Fun fact: The filet mignon, king of small fancy meat, is cut from the small end of this tenderloin. This means, as we found out, that the center cut is as expensive as fuckall. This is a damn LOG made out of FILET MIGNON. A MIGNON LOG. Buckle up for the impact on your wallet. Our 2.5 lb center cut cost us $75, but it tasted amazing, as you might imagine. We had basically no background knowledge of meat cuts prior to this, and thus did not know that Tenderloin Roast and Center-cut Tenderloin Roast are two different things. The more you know.

Aside from price, the two cuts are basically going to accomplish the same goal of being fucking delicious, so get whichever one you feel you can afford. The only thing that will change is the cooking time, which I’ll address below. Once you have your meat…

2. Get all your other ingredients together.
The glory of this recipe is how few ingredients there are. Tenderloin, salt and pepper, shallots, porcini mushrooms, vinegar, stock, butter, cream, tarragon. That’s all there is to it. If this shit doesn’t get you laid, nothing will. The wine in the picture was for my face. And Mel’s face. Her wonderful girlfriend Jackie was also hungover and napping so she didn’t get any wine; these are the choices you must make in life. What’s that? You don’t like mushrooms? Shut up. You do now.
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3. Prep and dice yo shit.
Prepping everything ahead of time is key in a new recipe – you don’t want to be rushed while you’re trying something new. The dried porcinis need to be rehydrated, so an hour before you want to get things going, throw them in a bowl with a cup of warm water and leave them to soak. Save the liquid though, you’re going to need it later. By the way, the mushrooms smell almost exactly like dog food, but they mellow out and taste great. Once they’re good to go, dice them up along with the shallots. Prepare to cry, shallots are the devil’s spawn. Preheat the oven to 325 – you want a low temp so the meat doesn’t cook too fast.
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4. Tie and season your meat log of choice.
Tying the meat can be kind of a pain in the ass if your butcher doesn’t do it for you, and you’re probably wondering what the point is, anyway. Mainly, tying is good for holding the meat together: It will reduce fissures that could allow precious juices to escape during cooking, and it will keep the meat a more uniform/pretty shape, as it will swell and possibly distort in the oven. Another good reason to tie is if there is stuffing involved, so it stays in the center where it belongs, but we’re not stuffing here, so it’s mostly just for aesthetics. We didn’t feel like tying, so I’m not going to teach you how – if you want to learn, youtube has some informative videos. Our butcher had tied about 1/3 of it for some reason, so that’s why it’s partially tied in the pictures.

Anyway, once you tie or don’t tie, slather it with salt and pepper. Be generous. Get it on all sides.
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5. Sear that meat.
To give the meat a nice brown crust on the outside, grab your oven-proof skillet and heat the oil on high. You want the pan hot as fuck, so that when the meat hits it, it quickly sears and browns the outside, while the inside stays raw. Our center cut only took about 2 minutes on each side (we seared it on 4 sides, as if it were a rectangle), so be careful not to burn it. There’s going to be something called fond forming on the bottom of the pan. It’s a brown crust from the meat juices and fat, and it’s your friend. It adds a rich flavor when you’re making the sauce later on. Treat your fond with respect. You can see a little bit of it just forming under the top left of the roast. Unfortunately I didn’t get more pictures of the browning process after this, because shit was moving pretty quickly. Anyway, once your meat is brown on all sides, remove it and put it aside on the plate. Immediately turn the pan to medium-low. It’s still hot as hell, don’t forget.
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6. Shallot party.
Add the shallots, butter, and a pinch salt to the pan. Stir constantly so that they don’t burn. The fond from the previous step will be stuck fast, and will get more and more brown as you cook. Calm down, it’s ok. Cook the shallots until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. When that happens, hit the shallots with the vinegar. It will probably boil pretty quickly, which is what you want. It’ll loosen the brown fond and you should scrape it up off the pan with your spatula. Let the vinegar reduce by about half. There is going to be a lot of vinegar steam – be careful not to get a nose full, it is rather uncomfortable. This picture is shitty, but that’s life. Vinegar steam all over the damn place.
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7. Saucetown.
Pour in the stock, cream, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 cup of that reserved mushroom liquid. One note, the mushroom liquid MAY have some sandy bits at the bottom from soaking, so either strain it first, or skim the liquid from the top. Mix all that good stuff in, and then return the meat to the pan. Turn it so it gets a lil bit of sauce all over. No pictures here, I was getting too excited.

8. Roast that beast in the oven.
Pop the whole pan into the oven. If you have a Tenderloin Roast, cook for about 45 minutes. For a Center Cut Tenderloin, 35 minutes should be good for a medium-rare result. Because tenderloins are all individual flowers upon this earth, they will vary in size. The best way to ensure you don’t overcook the meat is to take it out after about 3/4 of the total cooking time, and either cut it to check the center color, or use a meat thermometer to aim for 130 degrees in the center (this is better than cutting into the meat). One thing to keep in mind is that the meat will continue to cook after it’s out of the oven, so don’t cook it until it’s perfect – it will become overdone as it sits. That’s why the thermometer is going to help you out. We took ours out and checked at 20, 27, and 34 minutes. 34 was the magic time for us. While the meat is roasting, dice your fresh tarragon.

Once the meat is at 130 degrees, remove the pan from the oven and set the meat on a plate. Cover it with a little foil tent, so that it will cool slowly. DO NOT CUT IT UNTIL IT HAS RESTED FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES, YOU GARBAGE MONSTER. Cutting too early will let all those tasty juices out. Put the pan back on the stove, bring to a boil, and then add the last bit of butter and tarragon. Do not touch the pan handle, it will be hot as fuck. You think you won’t touch it, but you’ll want to. Don’t. Don’t! Put your rested meat in the sauce, and you’re ready to feast! We cut ours out of the pan because fuck the system.
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9. Bonus asparagus with crispy tips!
While the meat is cooking, wash and trim the woody ends of your asparagus. Spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. As soon as the meat is out of the oven, jack the oven temp up to 400 degrees, and roast asparagus for 25 minutes. That’s literally it. Crispy tips every time.
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Enjoy, you filthy animals.

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