Q: I have been cooking beef tenderloin with Madeira sauce from the Dec. 3, 2003, Trib for several years. My question is: Could I make it up to the point where I make the sauce then refrigerate it? Then, prior to serving, bring to room temp and finish it off?
This is a Wolfgang Puck recipe and it keeps me at the stove while everyone is chomping at the bit waiting for the meat. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
—Beverly Leone, Wayne, Ill.
A: Sure, you can follow the recipe through step one, at which point the meat is cooked. I, personally, would take it through the next two steps so the roasting pan is deglazed, the sauce base created, and the roasting pan cleaned and stowed away.
Finish the recipe from step 4, finishing the sauce, right before serving. The sauce should take under 10 minutes to complete, especially if you've done your prep work ahead of time and have all your ingredients sliced, chopped and measured.
You can time cooking the tenderloin so that it will sit, cooked, on the counter for up to 2 hours before serving — that's the maximum time considered safe for leaving cooked foods out at room temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. (The limit is 1 hour in areas where the room temperature is 90 degrees.)
I would refrigerate the tenderloin after roasting if you want to cook it hours ahead. Ditto the makings of the sauce. Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart in their new book, "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking" (Gibbs Smith, $45) suggest wrapping the cooked beef in foil after cooking, then reheating it in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.
Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of reheating beef, especially expensive cuts like this. I like my beef cooked just so, the rarer the better.
I also posed your question to Puck. He thinks it best to time the cooking of the tenderloin so that it comes out of the oven, rests briefly to redistribute the juices, and then gets sliced and served. I’m happy to say he, too, worries about what re-heating would do to the meat. He also cites the food safety risk in having the meat sitting out for a long time.
Puck suggests doing step 4 first — making the sauce with the vegetables, broth, whipping cream and flavorings. Re-heat the sauce gently while the tenderloin rests. Use that time to quickly deglaze the roasting pan with Madeira and add the deglazing liquid to the sauce. Serve.
Beef tenderloin with mushroom Madeira sauce
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Yield: 8 servings
Along with this recipe, Wolfgang Puck offered buying tips for beef tenderloin in his 2003 column. Purchase a piece with the "widest possible diameter so there's less risk of overcooking,'' he wrote. "Beforehand, trim off excess fat and the silverskin, a tough membrane covering part of the meat. Both are easily removed with a sharp knife, inserting it just beneath the silverskin and cutting parallel to the surface." How much beef to buy? Puck called for 12 ounces per person for a simple meal or 8 ounces per person for a more elaborate multicourse dinner.
1 beef tenderloin roast, about 4 pounds, preferably the wide-end cut, trimmed
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup Madeira
2 cups homemade chicken stock or 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) canned chicken broth
1/2 pound button mushrooms, quartered
2 each, minced: shallots, garlic cloves
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons each: Dijon-style mustard, bottled sweet barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves or chives
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Tie kitchen string around the tenderloin at 1-inch intervals to give it a uniform shape. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a small, heavy roasting pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sear the tenderloin until uniformly well browned, 2 minutes per side. Remove the tenderloin; set aside.
2. Add onion, celery and carrots to the pan; reduce the heat slightly. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7 minutes. Place the tenderloin on top; transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the tenderloin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center reads 135 degrees for medium rare, about 22 minutes. Place the tenderloin on a carving board; cover with foil. Set aside.
3. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add Madeira; stir and scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Heat to boil; cook until the Madeira reduces to about 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock; cook until reduced by half, about 12 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic and half of the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are light golden, about 7 minutes. Place a fine-meshed strainer over the pan of mushrooms; carefully pour the Madeira mixture into the strainer. Discard the onion, celery and carrots.
5. Pour the whipping cream into the skillet. Cook, stirring often, over high heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in mustard, barbecue sauce and remaining butter until well blended. Pour in any meat juices that have collected from the tenderloin; stir. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Cut off the strings from the roast. Cut the meat across the grain into slices 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Arrange on a platter or serving plates. Garnish with parsley. Pour the sauce into a sauceboat; pass at the table.
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