Aug 1, 2014
Whole Beef Tenderloin on the Grill
I love beef tenderloin, especially when it’s done nice and rare. It as big flavour and a smooth, silky texture, almost like the meat equivalent of tuna sashimi. You can get a trimmed tenderloin from your local butcher but it’s cheaper to buy a whole untrimmed one and do it yourself. Here’s a YouTube video that shows you how.
Serves 8 to 12
1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed (about five to five and a half pounds)
2 Tbsp course salt (I like French Fleur de Sel)
1 tsp crushed chili flakes or cayenne pepper (or more if you like)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion
½ cup coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges and fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish
Let the roast sit at room temperature for maybe an hour, not more than two, at room temperature before you grill it.
Generously coat it with course salt, and then sprinkle it evenly with the spices and rosemary, finishing with a thick coating of black pepper. Drizzle the roast with olive oil to help the coating stick.
Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking. Place the tenderloin on the cooking grate and cover the grill. I recommend using cherry wood as a flavouring agent but other hardwoods like apple, oak, hickory or mesquite also work well. Grill the roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning often, until the core temperature reaches 120F. Don't overcook it!
Remove the roast from the grill and let it rest, loosely tented in foil, for maybe half an hour. It’s also great served at room temperature on a platter as part of an appetizer buffet, so you can cook it well ahead of time.
Cut the roast across the grain into thin round slices and fan them out on a serving platter. Sprinkle a little more course salt over them along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with some fresh chopped Italian parsley and lemon wedges. Serve with your favourite condiments. I like to use a selection of horseradish, Dijon mustard and grainy mustard, and if you want to get fancier than that, make a doctored mayo with a little Dijon, some chopped fresh tarragon and a squeeze of lemon.
10 Secrets of Championship Barbecue
1. Keep it slow and low. The thing that sets real barbecue apart from grilling is the low temperature (about 200–220˚F | 95–105˚C) and the long cooking time (3 or 4 hours for chicken and as long as 18 to 24 hours for a big beef brisket). This technique allows the fibers in the meat to gently break down over time, creating the melt-in-your-mouth texture of real barbecue.
2. The judges eat with their eyes, and so do your guests. Care about presentation. Just as your car runs better after you’ve washed it, great barbecue tastes even greater when it looks so good you want to jump into the plate and wallow in it.
3. Mustard and rub. This simple, time-honored technique gives barbecue its fabulous crust, or “bark,” as the Southerners call it. The mustard provides a base for your rub to stick to, and gives the crust a nice tang when you bite into it. And the rub, with its combination of salty, savory, bitter, and sweet flavors, accentuates the flavor of the meat without overpowering it.
4. Two words: Granulated garlic. The addition of this seemingly modest flavor component makes a difference to that first taste. The judges don’t know why, but there’s something about it that tugs the old taste buds in the right direction.
5. The final temperature of your meat is more important than how long you cook it. Watch the internal temperature of your meat and you will produce great barbecue, time after time.
6. Let it rest. Resting your meat after you take it off the heat allows the juices to redistribute inside, within the protective crust. It also allows the protein to set, or gel, almost like custard. Resting lets the meat come to the perfect texture.
7. Sauce lightly, or don’t sauce at all. The tang of a barbecue sauce (called a finishing glaze in barbecue circles) helps to complete the perfect barbecue flavor. But it can also overpower the flavor of barbecue, so you don’t taste much else but the sauce. Go lightly, and then serve some “dipping sauce” on the side.
8. Use a combo of woods for complex flavor. Use hardwood as a flavoring agent, but learn what combination works for you. Just like a blended whisky provides the taster with different flavor notes—some sharp, some sweet—hardwood can be just as subtle. Use mesquite for astringent sharpness, fruitwood for rich sweetness, and hickory, maple, and oak for classic barbecue flavor.
9. Barbecue is about balance. Balance your flavors to create a single, complex but unified taste. Balance your temperature, length of cooking time and resting time to achieve the perfect texture. Balance the appearance of the barbecue on your guest’s plate or the judges’ tray, so your portion looks plentiful but not vulgar, and moist but not over-sauced, richly luxurious, but with some fresh green as a visual counterpoint.
10. Barbecue is life. Good food and drink, friendship, humor, healthy competition—that’s what both barbecue and life are all about. As an old boss of mine once said, “Ronnie, if you use people good, they’ll use you good.” Be gentle with your barbecue and with your friends, and you shall lead a wonderful life.