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".