Episode 4: Christmas Beast
Bacon-wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Green Peppercorn Sauce
I don’t remember when my holiday tradition of prime rib changed to a holiday tradition of beef tenderloin but it is a welcome change. As much as I love prime rib, beef tenderloin is much easier to prepare, easier to carve and the leftovers are good cold.
The only challenge with beef tenderloin is that it is lean [little to no fat] and it is best served rare. This year, I wanted to do something that looked a little fancier than plain grilled tenderloin but was just as easy to execute. I thought about one of my favorite ways to prepare filet; bacon-wrapped filet and thought, let’s see what happens if I wrap the whole tenderloin in bacon—mummy style!
When bacon is at room temperature, it will stick to itself and you don’t need toothpicks to secure it. You want to make sure and purchase a standard thin-cut bacon and make each piece slightly over-lap the other, so it will bake into a beautiful bacon crust. I wrap room-temperature bacon around the tenderloin, tucking the end pieces under the center of the tenderloin to make sure that it was all roughly the same size. Or, if you are feeling flush, order a Chateaubriand from your butcher. The Chateaubriand is the center of the tenderloin and all the same size.
Finally, since it is the Christmas beast, I decided to add a rich green peppercorn sauce scented with fresh thyme and a splash of Cognac. This is now my favorite party presentation for beef tenderloin and I love the mash-up of the bacon-wrap with the old-school sauce. It just goes to show you that everything old can be new again!
Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 325 F
1 trimmed tenderloin, or Chateaubriand about 4-5 pounds
Salt and pepper
1 pound thin-cut bacon, at room temperature
Fresh Thyme leaves for garnish
Green Peppercorn and Thyme sauce (see below)
Brush tenderloin with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Tuck the small ends of the tenderloin under each side to make sure that the roast is about the same thickness all over.
Beginning at one side, wrap the bacon around the tenderloin, overlapping the pieces of bacon so that they stick to each other. Make sure that the ends of the bacon are tucked under.
Place bacon-wrapped tenderloin on a rack set into a pan with the ends of the bacon touching the rack so the bacon doesn’t unravel.
Roast at 325 F for 60 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 125 F. Remove and let rest for 20 minutes, covered with foil. If you use thin-cut bacon, it should be crisp, but if you want the bacon to be crispier, you can broil the roast for a 1-2 minutes before removing from the oven.
Slice and garnish with fresh thyme leaves. Serve with Sauce on the side.
Green Peppercorn and Thyme Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons White wine vinegar
1 large shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons cognac or Brandy
1 tablespoon strong Dijon mustard
½ cup heavy cream
1 Stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 dash Tabasco or other favorite hot sauce, optional
2 teaspoons thyme, plus 8-10 sprigs for infusing and garnish
1 tablespoon green peppercorns, pressed dry
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Combine the butter, vinegar, shallot, cognac, mustard in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. When the liquid is reduced, add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and whisk it until it is incorporated. This addition of the cream will help prevent the sauce from breaking.
Next start adding the butter, cube by cube. Whisk continually. When the first cube of butter is almost melted, add another, etc. Repeat until all of the butter is incorporated.
Add the cream and a dash of Tabasco if using, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add about 5 sprigs of thyme and let sit in the hot sauce for 10 minutes.
While the mixture is still warm, strain through a china cap or a fine strainer. Mix in the thyme leaves and peppercorns if using. Use immediately or keep in a pitcher in a warm water bath. If it breaks, you can reincorporate with a little heavy cream or by using the immersion blender.