Our review of Alton Brown's Center Cut Beef Tenderloin. Easy to make, full of flavor, and most of all tender as tenderloin should be. Beef tenderloin makes it easy to be your own butcher and cut out a tasty roast.
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Ah, the beef tenderloin!
A lean, flavorful, melt in your mouth, morsel of beef. It's like butter in beef form!
It also can be expensive if you don't know where to shop. Single steaks sold by themselves go for over $20 per pound in most places.
The trick is to invest your money better and buy it whole, use every portion, and save some serious dough.
📖 Read more about Buying Whole Cuts of Meat
You can usually find a local grocery store selling whole beef tenderloin for cheaper prices around Christmas time. If you got some freezer space this would be a good time to stock up.
I like to cut to my tenderloin into steaks for filet mignon and a nice chunk to roast. For the roast, I use Alton Brown's method - the topic of today's post.
Here is what you will need for this recipe:
- Beef tenderloin center cut roast (cut from a whole beef tenderloin)
- Freshly around black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground cumin
You'll want to buy a beef tenderloin as whole as you can get it and slice it up yourself. Since there is no bone it's not too challenging to be your butcher. You only have to remove the silver skin which we will talk about more in a moment.
For the oil I use 100% grape seed oil. It's a high heat oil that doesn't contain any soy.
Recommendation - If you want to spring for high quality dry aged whole beef tenderloin, check out Porter Road. They only source pasture raised beef from small farms. Amazing stuff.
If you want to make this with the best cumin, I recommend Burlap & Barrel's Wild Mountain Cumin. By far the best tasting cumin. Nothing compares. You will need to use a spice grinder or a mortal & pestle to grind up the whole cumin seeds. Totally worth having in your pantry.
Let's take you step by step through how I make this roast.
The first thing that you need to do is remove the silver skin. It's white and gray membrane that looks shiny. It's not edible. You need to get your knife into the skin and just use the knife and your hands to peel it off until it looks clean.
It's not very hard to do, you just need a good knife that can cut through it. Places like Costco sells beef tenderloin that has already been trimmed, but it's significantly more expensive. Last time we got the silver skin off in about 5 minutes. Worth spending the time to save you some money.
Next take the whole tenderloin and cut it into 3 pieces. The center piece is what you are going to use for the roast. What about the other pieces? Here is what Alton suggests
- Those can be cut into steaks to your desired thickness.
- You take one of the other pieces, cut a pocket in it and fill it with blue cheese. Then roast.
- Cut a piece into razor thin pieces and make Carpaccio.
- Pound a whole piece out with a meat mallet and then grill it. Use the meat for Philly cheese steaks.
Now it's time to season up and sear your roast.
Alton puts the seasonings into a loaf pan and then rolls the roast around in them. You can sprinkle them on the roast as well if you want to save on dishes.
There are two different options for searing this roast, both in cast iron. I have used my Lodge Cast Iron grill pan to grill the outside of the meat. Technically it's more searing than grilling since not using an actual grill - it's all about getting those beautiful grill marks.
Alton uses a cast iron grill pan with a removable handle which looked pretty sweet. It took me about 8 minutes to get grill marks all around.
Last time I made this I just used a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet as I didn't have my grill pan with me. It will get the job done as well, you just won't have the grill marks. The skillet is more useful than the grill pan, if you are only going to pick out one, I would go with the skillet.
After searing, let the roast rest wrapped in foil for 15 minutes. Then the roast makes it's trip into a 250 degree oven - you want gentle heat to finish it.
For the record my roast was 102 degrees when it went into the oven.
Set the oven to 250 degrees. Alton says 15-20 minutes to get to an internal temperature of 135 degrees. For me it took almost 30 minutes.
A probe thermometer is your best friend to get it right - takes away all the guess work.
You can get them for under $20, I have this Taylor one.
135 will get you to medium rare. The meat will be a more reddish pink. Anything beyond that it will be too tough.
Insert the probe into the center of the meat. Then place it into the 250 degree oven in the cast iron pan that you used to sear it. Once you hit 135 degrees remove it.
Alton says to let it rest for 30 minutes. He also like his better at room temperature. I do not, so I let mine rest for about 15 minutes, wrapped in foil before eating. The resting period is to allow the juices in the meat to re-distribute so they don't run all out of the meat when you slice it.
🥕 Side Dishes
Here are some ideas for some side dishes that would be perfect with this roast.
- Air Fryer Asparagus
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Chinese Long Beans
- Elote Creamed Corn
- Cornmeal Onion Rings
- Honey Tarragon Carrots
➕ More Good Eats Reviews
Here are some other Good Eats recipes we have reviewed on the blog.
Alton Brown's Center Cut Beef Tenderloin
- 1 to 1 ¼ pound center cut beef tenderloin roast
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp freshly ground cumin
- 1 tsp grapeseed or other high heat oil
- Preheat a cast iron grill pan or skillet over high heat.
- Rub the roast with the oil, then season roast with salt, pepper, and cumin.
- Place the roast into the pan and sear for 8-10 minutes turning until all sides are browned.
- Remove the roast from the pan to a plate. Wrap in foil. Allow the roast to rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Stick a probe thermometer into the center of the roast.
- Place the roast back into the cast iron pan. Close the door and attach the probe to the base. Set an alarm to go off at 135 degrees. This should take between 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Wrap the roast in foil and allow at least 15 minutes for it to rest before carving.
- The first thing that you need to do is remove the silver skin. It's white and gray membrane that looks shiny. It's not edible. You need to get your knife into the skin and just use the knife and your hands to peel it off until it looks clean.
- It's not very hard to do, you just need a good knife that can cut through it.
- Once you have it removed, slice the roast into 3 pieces. The center piece should be around 1 ¼ pounds. That is your center cut roast.