Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whole Beef Tenderloin

Quick question - What do I have in common with the snow crab in this Filet Oscar?

beef filet with crab, beef filet oscar, big green egg steak recipe, grill dome steak recipe, kamado steak recipe

Answer - After spending the day at the pool with the neighbors, I was also bright red!

But instead of being covered with Bearnaise sauce, I am slathered with a skin-cooling, fire quenching aloe "sauce".   It was worth it though, getting to take time off with Alexis at the pool while Trevor thoroughly abused an alligator....
as an airplane
as a surfboard
as a foot rest....playing is hard work!
We were famished after swimming and playing the day into twilight.  I was craving something special, something decadent.   I decided to try to make Filet Oscar, which is simply a filet of beef tenderloin topped with crab meat, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce.  I'm not going to post the recipe (because I didn't write it down) but if you're interested you can find a version here over at Confessions of a Foodie Bride.  

I want to just share a few tips about trimming a whole beef tenderloin and a "grilling secret" that will give you the most tender grilled steak ever.

How To Trim A Beef Tenderloin
Instead of buying filet Mignon, we buy a whole beef tenderloin and I break it down into steaks, roasts, etc.  You pay significantly less per pound (about half), get fresh cut steaks, and have total control over steak size. The task can seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but it really comes down to three steps.

Before you start, you want to pick the right knife.  Looking at this big hunk of meat, you might be tempted to grab something just as big to use like a chef's knife (middle) or cleaver (bottom).  But what you really want is something sharp and narrow like a boning (top) or filet knife.  The narrow blade will allow you to work deftly around the meat and fat. 
Bigger isn't always better.

First - Remove all loose fat and membranes by hand.  There will sometimes be a thin outer membrane that will easily pull right off.  Discard.  I didn't get a picture of this because right as I was doing it, we had a "fly-over" and someone got distracted with the camera.
I think he was spying on the Nibble Me This kitchen.

Second - Remove the "side meat" or "chain of bull".  It runs along one side of the tenderloin and you can feel the division.  In this picture, this part was pulled off by working a finger between the tenderloin and side meat, then running my hand down the length of the meat.    (Keep all of these scraps for ground beef! - post forthcoming)
trimming whole beef tenderloin

Then remove the more stubborn parts using your knife.
whole beef tenderloin trim

Third - Remove the silverskin by working the tip of your knife under a portion of it as shown.
beef tenderloin how to trim

Then run the blade along the strip of silverskin with the knife edge angled slightly up towards the silverskin.  This is where having a wide blade would be cumbersome.
how to trim whole beef tenderloin

Now you cut slice your trimmed tenderloin into filets of your choosing or roast it whole.
beef tenderloin big green egg, grill dome filet mignon,

Reverse Sear
Want a "secret" for a guaranteed tender thick steak?  Hard core grillers and bbqrs know this but a lot of weekend grill warriors don't.  Use the reverse sear or "Finney Method".   

In my opinion, the reverse sear gives you better control over getting your steak to your targeted "doneness" (rare, med rare, etc) and it makes the steak more evenly cooked.  It is medium rare throughout instead of well done on the outside, then medium and a tiny bit of medium rare in the middle.  It definitely cooks the most tender steak I have ever had.

Two steps:
  1. Roast your thick steaks over indirect heat at 250f until they reach within 5 degrees of your final desired internal temperature.  For example I was cooking my filet to medium rare (125-130f internal temp) so I pulled them off the grill when they were around 115f to 120f.  
  2. Sear your steaks over blazing hot direct heat.  While the steaks are resting, open up your vents to get your grill HOT.  I had mine at 600f.  Sear them about 1 minute per side as close to the heat as you can get them.  Here I am using a spider rig to lower the Craycort cast iron grate to within a few inches of my coals.  
beef filet cast iron grate craycort

For more information about Reverse Searing, check out Finney's own page about it HERE.  Amazing Ribs has a great side by side comparison video about reverse searing vs. traditional steak methods.

The final results on my Grilled Filet Oscar?
beef tenderloin, filet mignon, crap topped steak, surf and turf

Super tender medium rare steak was flawless.  The bearnaise sauce was delicious and worth all the bleepity bleep whisking.  However, we forgot the asparagus at the store and the snow crab was slightly over done (I forgot about it on the other grill).   Despite my two slip ups, it was an excellent special occasion meal.  But we all agreed we would prefer "surf and turf" - same ingredients, just not all thrown together.  For us it is a case where the "parts are greater than the sum". 


  1. This is my dream meal. It looks FANTASTIC!!! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!

  2. Geeze, I always feel like a hotdog at a banquet when I and turf...seriously...and I thought my 80% lean hamburger was haute! Oh well, I do try...and speaking of, we purchased a new grill yesterday...I was tempted to buy the gas/smoker/charcoal, 3-in-1 grill but the mister convinced me I would not stand out in the rain, nor would he build me a we went with a new my next life I'm buy an Egg! xo, Nan

  3. It won't let me comment as myself so I'll try this - good how-to filet trimming and reverse sear and the dish looks amazingly good. Big Dude

  4. oh yeah...That looks good!!!

  5. Now that is pretty much a perfect day in my book (minus the sunburn). I don't think there's much that I love more than a grilled filet w/ bearnaise. And I'm pretty sure I'd rather be slathered in bearnaise than aloe. Even if I was sunburnt ;)

  6. Ummm great tuturial! I should think about doing this to save cash ...since grocery prices seem to only get higher. Seems like a perfect weekend, the sun really drains you.

  7. Ok Chris, where in Knoxville are you finding the meat?

  8. Oh man, looks great (as per usual)! Do you have a smaller Craycort that you can lower in on the spider?

  9. My four year old got sunburnt too and we had to call the green aloe juice "Hulk Juice" in order to convince him to put it on. LOL! I hope your burn feels better by now.

    I love your tutorial posts with all the tips and pictures. I think the "whys and hows" is what sets your blog apart from the rest, not to mention all the mouthwatering food you share. This is definitely a special occasion meal.

  10. @ Russ - Believe it or not. Sam's. I was hunting a brisket but couldn't find a packer brisket so I settled for the tenderloin.

    @Dave - Yes, its the cast iron grate for a medium Egg. I find I have to be very careful not to leave it in too long when searing close to coals. I've burned the seasoning off twice.

  11. Looks like as long as I don't click the "stay signed in" box, I can comment - Thanks to my daughter.

  12. Wow, those tenderloins look delicious.

  13. Gorgeous dish and wonderful info on the reverse sear method. My favorite chuckle was the line about your son abusing an alligator. ;)

  14. This has me humming Lady Gaga & thinking of her meat bikini. ~Mary

  15. "Flawless" indeed! That looks perfect!

  16. That looks delicious, Chris! I linked over to Meathead's blog, and the side by side comparison was very interested. Your steaks look like they got a good crust using the reverse method! I can't wait to try this method! Thanks for sharing!

    Kim in MD

  17. Looks delicious! Hope your burn feels better & get you a good tube of sunscreen too Chris - need to protect that pretty skin ya know?!

  18. wow, i'm a bit speechless at how delicious this looks! absolutely mouthwatering.

    we're all a bit red ourselves too!

  19. Looks absolutely delicious. Hubby has a lot of work ahead of him trimming tenderloins cos I will definitely try this! Hope it turns out as yummy as the one I see in the pic.

  20. Crap! I told that spy to look inconspicuious!!! Good thing I only paid him half of what he wanted! lol

    The tenderloin does look absolutely delicious!
    Thanks for the lesson too.. I need to cut/trim my own meat more often!

  21. My butcher does it for free...


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