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Dec 26, 2008 10:01 AM

Beef Tenderloin disaster

Feeling confident about Cook's Illustrated, my roasting thermometer and the dozens of hunks of meats I have roasted to perfection on a Weber kettle and an oven, I thought making a 7 pound beef tenderloin at my Mother in law's house for Christmas eve/her birthday would be a walk in the park.


So the recipe was from Cook's Illustrated. Heat the oven to 425. Season tenderloin with Salt, Pepper and olive oil. Roast in the upper rack for 45 minutes, or till the temp hit 125, then rest for 30 minutes. I ran up stairs for the resting period and when I got back the tenderloin had an internal temperature of 160.

Thats more than what I like for Pork loin.

The saving grace was that the meat was not bone dry and I had made a mushroom cream sauce with crabmeat that was served over the beef. People enjoyed it but I was so let down by this recipe an Cook's Illustrated. I like a roast to rest but do you think I should have just carved it sooner? Either way a warning to anyone looking to CI for a beef tenderloin recipe.

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  1. We have beef tenderloin every Christmas Dinner. Not to brag, but ours was perfect last night:

    To keep meat moist and flavorful, we have the butcher wrap a layer of suet around the tenderloin. Preheat over to 500 degrees. Place roast in oven on center rack and immediately reduce heat to 400. For a 5 pound roast, we cooked for exactly 30 minutes (we don't own a thermometer, which I realize is living dangerously). Joy of Cooking, which is what we use, says to cook until 130 degrees internal temp. Remove roast and allow to rest about 10 minutes. Remove suet layer, slice & serve. BTW, this roast is rare, and may be more red than most like it. Either cook a bit longer or alow to rest maybe an additional 5 minutes.

    1. Like you, I cook an awful lot of meat :-)

      I would not blame the book on this one... cook to 125 and let it rest is right, and it should result in a final temp of about 140 IMO. If it was really pulled out at 125, could it have risen 35 degrees while resting? Doesn't seem likely. Since it sounds like the meat sliced as med-well or well, you must have been higher than 125 when it came out. What type of therm? Also, what part of the meat was it in... a whole tenderloin has a thick end and a thinner end. Anyway, sounds like it worked out in the end...

      1 Reply
      1. re: woodburner

        There are two things that run through my mind. Was it because it was cooked at 425 that the meat continued to rise as much as it did? Or was 30 minutes just too long? A turkey with skin and bones I rest till 30 minutes. I left the thermometer probe while it rested which is how I know it rose to 160. The Tenderloin was fairly even, I didnt need to tie it because there was no tail. Also the next day we cooked a turkey in the same oven at 325. When I pulled it out it only rose 10 degrees in nearly 30 some odd minutes . . . .

      2. First, sorry to hear about your less than perfect results....however the recipe was a guideline. there are always variables to consider, e.g. the actual size of the meat in weight and or dimensions. Some Whole tenderloins are large and some are small. Domestic beef is larger than the proliferation of Australian beef available in many market today as well.

        The Cook's Illustrated recipe clearly states......or till the temp hits 125 by your own words. You make no mention of an actual thermometer used, other than "my roasting thermometer". Even though this has served you well in the past, you may have accidentally dropped the thermometer at some time which may have damaged the thermometer's accuracy.

        Many posters are proponents of probe thermometers....and I agree they are excellent tools for the kitchen......but I have always stated myself. that an oven thermometer itself is more important to achieve your desired results for even cooking.

        I have used many recipes using Cook's Illustrated test results and I have found them to be on the mark. This time I would have to say the problem was not with the recipe.....but some other reason in application....sorry.

        3 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          Hey there. I have had great results with the Thermometer, in fact the next day it was flawless. I left the probe in while the meat rested and I saw it rose to 160. I guess my big issue was the resting time and maybe the fact that the recipe called for roasting the tenderloin at 425 vs reducing the temp after a awhile. Also the recipe called for a 5-6 pound roast, I used a 7.5 pound roast. Not to seem argumentative but I really feel like I got duped by the recipe.

          1. re: blackbookali

            Not to seem argumentative but I really feel like I got duped by the recipe.

            Again sorry, but I have to be in agreement with (woodburner)....i find it hard to believe the roast can raise 35 degrees in temperature out of the oven. By all accounts in reading or experience, meats cook up 10-15 degrees at most in resting period up to 20 minutes....and the latter is usually only if there are bones involved.

            I have a friend who likes to roast his Whole Filet of Beef Tenderloin at 450*, and he has never had the problem you experienced. I know this because he always like to tell me how perfect his roast come out every time he makes it using his methods.

            I would suggest you check your probe thermometer or check your oven's calibration as the problem.....that is, unless you are willing to accept human error as the cause.

            1. re: fourunder

              The thermometer worked fine on a Turkey the next day. The oven may be the issue, but I am wary to try this recipe on such an expensive cut again.

        2. Oooh, that's tough. Fortunately it wasn't a total loss. But I'm confused by "ran up stairs for the resting period." During the resting period, the roast is supposed to be sitting on the counter - how could it have heated up another 35 degrees?

          There's just no way a tenderloin has enough thermal mass for this to happen. Unless you were adding significant heat to the roast during the resting period (eg, "resting" it in a 190F warming drawer) it was overcooked when it came out of the oven.

          There's an easy way to avoid this problem in the future: a $20 probe thermometer. You put the probe in the meat, run the wire out the oven door, and plug it into the display, which is set to sound an alarm when the meat hits the desired temp. No more undercooked or overcooked roasts, turkeys, etc.

          Meanwhile, I think your best bet is to get back on the horse that threw you. How 'bout tenderloin for New Year's dinner?

          1 Reply
          1. re: alanbarnes

            I used a probe thermometer and set it for 125 when I pulled the roast out. What I should have done is reset it for the resting period. Genius. I just figured it cant go up that high out of the oven and out of the roasting pan. I guess is the end it never hurts to be too cautious. At the same time I dont think I will let a roast rest longer than 20 minutes after this experience.

          2. It does seem strange. With most tenderloins, weight is not an issue. It's like a pork tenderloin - fairly even and length does not matter. I did a Beef Wellington for Christmas Eve. Roasted the tenderloin (about 4 lbs) at 425 for about 20-25 minutes until "almost" 120. Took it out, let it cool completely, encased it in pastry. Put the whole shebang back in the fridge until i was ready.

            Put it back in another 425 oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry was brown. I maybe should have left it for another 5-8 minutes to get the pastry really done. There was a slight but not objerctionable gumminess to the pastry. But the beef, encased by a mushroom/onion pate and the then the pastry, was rarer than an honest politician! I didn't get a standing ovation from the table, primarily because the wine had been flowing for a while, but everyone raved!

            The only things I can think of is

            a) did you cover it to rest? That could add back a lot of heat.
            b.) I had mine on the next to the lowest rack, rather than high. Is it possible that this might make a difference, but since you had a thermometer, it shouldn't
            c.) you say the thermometer is accurate, but it may be you have a second one to check against? Do a couple of Hotwater measures to see?

            1 Reply
            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

              I didnt cover the roast, my feeling is that I roasted the meat too high or the oven may have been out of whack at that temperature but it worked fine the next day at 325 for a Turkey.