Tenderloin is the boneless, bottom part of the short loin, and the most tender cut in the entire cow. Because it is so valuable, the whole tenderloin is generally removed before any other cuts are made from the short loin.
The whole strip can be treated as a roast, or it can be sliced into smaller roasts or into steaks. The strip is shaped like a long tapering cylinder, about 45 cm long (18 inches), with one end of the strip larger than the other. The diameter of the strip varies from 15 cm down to about 6 cm (6 inches to 2 ½ inches). The larger end is called the “bull nose”; the narrower end is where filet mignons are cut from.
The tenderloin is highly coveted, but it isn’t as flavourful as other beef cuts, so often sauces (particularly French sauces) are made to go with it. In addition to its not having the flavour of other roasts, some feel that the meat is too soft, and not very juicy, as the meat is so lean.
Nevertheless, it remains a very expensive cut of meat.
Beef Wellington is a whole tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry and baked.
The American food writer James Beard wrote,
“A prized piece of meat in all countries, the tenderloin is also known as the filet or fillet. It is expensive, but has no bone and precious little fat. In the United States, until the end of the nineteenth century, it was used mainly as a roast, elaborately larded. But as French cookery became better known throughout the country, through the cooking classes of M. [Pierre] Blot, the spreading fame of New Orleans cuisine, and the appearance of French and continental restaurants in cities on both coasts, we began to find more varied uses for the tenderloin. Today we divide it as the French do into a number of cuts. However, the whole tenderloin is still used for broiling, especially over charcoal, and is often marinated beforehand.” Beard, James. American Cookery. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 1972. Page 260.
Never cook beef tenderloin beyond medium-rare, as it will dry out past that and toughen. Many people cut off the small end before roasting, and use the small end for other purposes, as the small end would cook much faster than the rest of the roast and be ruined.
|↑1||Beard, James. American Cookery. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 1972. Page 260.|