Here is another scrumptious contribution by my Aunt Jackie, a favourite guest contributor. She has made this dish for us for special occasions. It comes from America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks. It is a bit time-consuming but well worth every step. A real wow of a dish to serve to special guests or for your family for a special occasion. Enjoy.
Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin Roast
Serves 10 to 12
Not all pepper mills produce a coarse enough grind for this recipe. For alternative methods for cracking peppercorns, see “Cracking Down on Peppercorns,” (related content). Serve with Red Wine–Orange Sauce or Pomegranate-Port Sauce (see related content), if desired.
4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely cracked black peppercorns
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (6-pound) whole beef tenderloin, trimmed
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine salt, sugar, and baking soda in bowl; set aside. Heat 6 tablespoons oil and peppercorns in small saucepan over low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Using fine-mesh strainer, drain cooking oil from peppercorns. Discard cooking oil and mix peppercorns with remaining 3 tablespoons oil, orange zest, and nutmeg.
2. Set tenderloin on sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over surface of tenderloin and rub into tenderloin until surface is tacky. Tuck tail end of tenderloin under about 6 inches to create more even shape. Rub top and side of tenderloin with peppercorn mixture, pressing to make sure peppercorns adhere. Spray three 12-inch lengths kitchen twine with vegetable oil spray; tie head of tenderloin to maintain even shape, spacing twine at 2-inch intervals.
3. Transfer prepared tenderloin to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, keeping tail end tucked under. Roast until thickest part of meat registers about 120 degrees for rare and about 125 degrees for medium-rare (thinner parts of tenderloin will be slightly more done), 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.
4. Remove twine and slice meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve.
Preparing—And Packing On—A Peppercorn Crust
Most peppercorn crusts either bring big crunch or grip the meat—but rarely both. Here’s how we got it right.
CRACK: For a crunchy crust that also sticks, coarsely crack—don’t pulverize—the peppercorns.
SIFT: To remove the dusty bits of ground pepper, sift the cracked peppercorns in a strainer.
GLUE: Rub the meat with salt, sugar, and baking soda to make the surface tacky.
Manipulating Pepper’s Heat and Flavor
For a crust that was satisfyingly crunchy, we needed to use so much cracked pepper that its spiciness overwhelmed the mild flavor of the meat. Simmering the peppercorns in oil before applying them to the roast tamed their heat by pulling out an oil-soluble compound known as piperine. Unfortunately, this treatment also dulled the pepper’s flavor by drawing out three other oil-soluble compounds—limonene, sabinene, and pinene—that together are largely responsible for creating the citrusy, piney notes that give pepper its depth.
To restore complexity to our lackluster pepper, we scanned databases used by perfumists and flavorists to identify aromatic ingredients that might share those dominant flavor compounds. We zeroed in on two: orange zest (95 percent limonene) and nutmeg (58 percent pinene and sabinene). By adding these ingredients to the oil-simmered peppercorns, we created a crust that was not too spicy, but still full of distinct pepper flavor.
SUBTRACT PIPERINE: To tame the peppercorns’ heat, we simmered them in oil, but along with the heat, we lost flavor.
ADD BACK LIMONENE, PINENE, AND SABINENE: By adding nutmeg and orange zest to the crust, we replaced three key flavor compounds lost during simmering.
Red Wine and Orange Sauce
2 tbs. Butter
2 minced shallots
1 tbs. Tomato paste
2 tsp. Sugar
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of beef broth
1 cup of red wine
¼ cup orange juice
2 tbs. Balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. Worcester Sauce
Sprig of fresh thyme
4 tbs. butter
Melt butter, add shallots, tomato paste and sugar, cook for about 5 minutes till shallots soften.
Add garlic cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add, beef broth, red wine, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce, and thyme.
Simmer for about 40 minutes until thickened and reduced to 1 cup. Strain, working solids to get all the sauce. Return to pan, bring back to simmer, add 4 tablespoons of butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with tenderloin.
I hope you enjoy this delicious beef tenderloin. Cheers, Michele