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Let the beef speak for itself

If you are one of those people who likes to smother a juicy piece of red meat with every spice in the pantry, then a good rule of thumb is that, sometimes simple is best.

Executive Chef Brad Clease, from Harry's Restaurant, told The Royal Gazette that a perfectly prepared beef tenderloin only requires a few basic seasonings.

“For a novice cook I would suggest that they properly season the meat with salt and pepper and keep it simple, especially with a tenderloin,” he said. “I wouldn't cover it with a lot of sauces expect maybe a Béarnaise, which is pretty classic with a tenderloin. It's like a Hollandaise sauce with fresh tarragon.”

Other sauce options include a red wine Demi-glace, which is by made by reducing beef stock in a pot and adding red wine until evenly combined. Or if you want a little extra kick you can create a pepper corn sauce, by taking the red wine Demi-glace and adding Dijon mustard, soft peppercorns and heavy cream “just to give the sauce a bit of extra body”.

Mr Clease said he tries to get flavour from the meat in two ways: one of which starts even before you get home from the grocery store.

He said he spent time researching where the restaurant's products and ingredients come from. They also make it a priority to get the freshest meat possible — which is made easier due to the close relationship Harry's has with the butchers from Mile's Market.

Beginners should look for a tenderloin cut, which has a decent amount of marbling (the lines of fat that run through the meat) and one with some firmness that can hold its shape.

More expensive cuts of meat tend to have the most marbling, which gives the meat a more rich, flavourful and tender quality.

Once you get home, Mr Clease said there were a couple of ways to cook the tenderloin. At the restaurant they use a steakhouse broiler, which can get to intense temperatures between 700 — 1200°F.

“The grill is so hot that the steak almost gets a crust on the outside, but stays nice and juicy in the middle,” he said.

But you can also get a similar result at home by cranking up the barbecue as high as it can go (around 500°F) and searing the steak for three minutes on each side.

“Put the lid [of the barbecue] down and then it will smoke,” the chef said. “But make sure to keep your eye on it depending on how you like it cooked.”

People without fancy grilling equipment can make the tenderloin using a cast iron pan and sear the meat on each side to get that crust effect.

But Mr Clease advised that one of the biggest mistakes a novice cook can make is overcooking the meat.

“Why get an expensive meat like that and overcook it?” he asked. “Tenderloin doesn't have a lot of fat running through it, so it gets grey and tough, whereas if you have other cuts with fat running through it and good marbling that will compensate for the overcooking.”

Mr Clease said tenderloin wasn't actually his favourite type of steak and he tends to go for a rib-eye, which has more flavour.

“The tenderloin seems to have this stigma attached to it that it's the best cut, probably because in our culture we like meat so tender, but if you cook in any other country, like France, they are no so caught up on with the idea of being able to cut your meat with a fork.”

To top off your meal, the executive chef said you can pretty much serve the red meat dish with any big California red wine. But if you are drinking something like a Chardonnay, scallops are also a good option.

Mr Clease said: “I am not old school where I believe a red meat dish has to go with red wine and white wine has to go with fish. You can get a light Pinot Grigio and serve that with fish as well.”

His overall advice for how to make the perfect tenderloin is to: keep it simple, have fun and let the food speak for itself.

“You run into problems when people are trying to do too many things on the plate. You can make a really good meal out of three or four ingredients, by just pairing the tenderloin with mustard greens sautéed in butter and a nice glass of wine.”

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Published October 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm)

Let the beef speak for itself

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