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Dec 24, 2011 08:30 AM

Dry brining beef tenderloin

I am dry brining(seasoning 24 hours in advance) beef tenderloin. Currently it is wrapped in plastic.

Should it be left uncovered in the fridge or does it matter?

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    1. re: lizzer

      you can't dry anything that is wrapped in plastic. it needs exposure to air to evaporate moisture. dry it really well after unwrapping. let sit a few days. dry again, then season and let rest at room temp before putting in the oven. after cooking til desired temp, let the meat rest at least 15-20 minutes before cutting.

    2. When I dry brine I leave uncovered 2-3 days

      10 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        Ditto. I just did this the week before Christmas for a birthday dinner, and it was the single best beef tenderloin roast that any of us had ever had. I salted it on Thursday morning, put it on a rack in a roasting pan and left it uncovered in the fridge until Saturday afternoon. Roasted at 425 to medium-rare. It was amazing -- great crust and SO much more flavorful than tenderloin usually is (I make tenderloin because the family loves it, not because I think it's an awesome hunk of beef).

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Ditto on the family love. Not my personal fav

          1. re: TorontoJo

            I just did this exact same method of dry brining, but also before roasting I rubbed it all over with olive oil and cracked peppercorns. Came out awesome!

            1. re: sadiefox

              Ooh, yes, I should have mentioned that before roasting, I brushed the roast with bacon fat (!) and sprinkled cracked pepper all over.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Just a quick question about this. I have two pieces of tenderloin - one about 6 lbs, the other maybe 3 or 4 lbs. They're in the fridge and salted - cooking them tomorrow for NYE dinner. Timingwise - how long roughly will they take at 425 to medium rare? I have a thermometer but I need a general estimate so that I get them into the oven on time. I assume the larger piece will need a bit more time, but that's fine.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  i usually blast at 425 for 15 mins then slow cook at 300 for the rest of the time. i figure about 15-20 mins per pound. i usually run it under the broiler at the end.

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    Mine was 5.5 lbs cut in half, so about 3 lbs for one and 2.5 for the other. They took about 50, but may have been closer to rare right in the center at that point (we just saved that part for leftovers). So I'd plan to check your smaller one starting at the 50 minute mark and maybe another 15 - 30 minutes for your larger one. But I would definitely check the larger one when you take the smaller one out, because if it's long and skinny, you may not need as much time as you might think.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      Great - thanks. This is really helpful. I just needed to know if it was going to be one hour or five. Kidding - I didn't think it would be five, but also didn't want to be serving dinner after midnight.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        I stuck a probe thermometer in the center of mine (4.5 lbs) and roasted at 425 till it reached 125 degrees. I'm not sure how long it took because I was watching the temperature but it was definitely under an hour. It rested a good 20 minutes while I roasted the brussels sprouts. When I sliced it, it was a perfect medium rare.

              2. re: TorontoJo

                Uncovered - definitely a good method. I would never try and do to a whole tenderloin in that suddenly fashionable "dry brining" method of wrapping in plastic that people are doing with Turkey's for Thanksgiving.

                Aging beef is absolutely tried and true. All the best steakhouses do this. I'll generally age good beef for about 4 days, and usually without any salt, until just before cooking.

                I would stress that it is important regardless of anything else to let your tenderloin warm up to room temperature before you cook it. Then lightly coat with canola oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. This is important to maximizing the amount of yummy medium-rare or rare inside - whichever you prefer.

                Sometimes, I'll slice off some 1.5 - 2" steaks off the tenderloin and do those au poivre in a cast iron skillet, and the rest oven roasted. This makes it very easy to do a pan sauce and a separate gravy, usually with sauteed mushrooms.

                And you already know how important it is to let the meat sit after cooking, so those juices slowly can get back inside the meat fibers. You'll probably need this time anyway ... if only to make a pan sauce.

            2. when brining is done, pat the beef dry, and leave unwrapped in the fridge to continue drying. Wet meat is the antithesis of browning!
              Remember to bring to room temp before roasting:)

              1. Not answering the actual brining question, but once that part is done, instead of the oven cooking, why not cook it sous vide and then do a quick sear when nearly ready to serve? No resting needed. Leave it in the bath until everything else is ready. When the cooked roast comes out of the sous vide bath, dry it off with paper towels, then lay it into the hottest cast-iron pan you can manage for searing, turning it with tongs to get all sides seared. You want a very-high smoke-point oil, or at least clarified butter, in the pan, in quantity enough to conduct heat across any little gaps due to unevenness in the meat surface (a couple or three tablespoons of oil). That's all the oil is for, evening out conduction of heat from the flat surface of the pan to the not-so-evenly-flat surface of the meat. Otherwise, you could do it with completely dry-surface meat on a completely dry pan. If you don't have the smokin'-hot oil, you char the raised edges and any hollows or between-fiber parts that don't touch the pan are un-seared. Or, getting them seared requires you to leave the meat in contact with the pan too long and the more raised edges get too much char, and the heat begins to migrate into the meat. If the pan is hot enough, the whole operation is just a couple of minutes, total, searing each side and edge of the roast just the few seconds it needs to brown. You don't want to leave it long enough for heat to penetrate past the surface, since the entire roast is already cooked to medium-rare perfection inside and there's no need for any overdone layers.

                You also don't want to use a low-smoke-point oil or regular butter, because overcharred butter solids are not a nice flavor. Ghee or clarified butter gets rid of those fragile solids and lets you get the surface-searing done quickly and efficiently.

                Anyway, if you feel the need to dry-brine before cooking, fine. I find that, with sous vide, it's not needed. You just throw some aromatics in the bag with the roast and some oil (again, for heat conduction), squish the air out of the bag (I just use ZipLocks and use water-displacement to squeeze out the air before I zip the bag) drop it in the 140F bath for several hours (depends on size/thickness of roast) and go worry about other stuff or entertain your guests. If you are worried about undercooking, poke with a probe thermometer (like Thermapen). Once the center has reached that temp, the meat is cooked, and you can let it ride another hour or two in the bath without any fear of overcooking. It'll just be ready to sear and plate. The sous vide leaves it juicy and tender all the way through, no resting needed. Gotta love that wide operating window. You know that when the veggies and side-dishes are ready, the meat is just waiting, perfectly done.

                I use an Anova in a 12-liter plastic box. But the first steaks I ever cooked sous vide were done in a pot on an electric stove, with a digital thermometer probe dangling in the bath. I just came by and tweaked the burner every so often, to keep the bath in the desired temp range. The Anova just automates the temp control, making it completely hands-off. Love it, love it, love it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kevinmcl

                  not everybody has, or wants, a sous-vide machine. :)