A Chateaubriand roast is a tenderloin roast that has both ends removed, leaving the thickest, centre portion. It will weigh about 350 g (12 oz) and is meant to serve two people, though it will really do about 3 people who are lighter-eaters. As it is a very small roast, it is sometimes referred to as “Chateaubriand steak.”
It is very expensive.
American food writer James Beard wrote,
“Chateaubriand: Cut from the thickest part of the tenderloin, this usually serves two. Originally this steak was cooked in a wrapping of less tender pieces of meat, which were later put in a press to extract juices for the sauce. Today the Chateaubriand is broiled without wrapping until it is crusty brown outside and red rare inside. It is traditionally served with either a Chateaubriand sauce or a Béarnaise.” Beard, James. American Cookery. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 1972. Page 260.
Occasionally you will see reports of less scrupulous supermarkets labelling top sirloin steak as “Chateaubriand steak” so that they can upgrade the price along with the name.
Preheat oven to 230 C (450 F / Gas Mark 8). Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper. Grill for a minute on each side, then place on a rack in a baking dish and roast from 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with Sauce Béarnaise. Or, use for Beef Wellington.
Originally “Chateaubriand” was more a method of cooking meat, than it was a specific cut. First, the tenderloin was stuffed with a filling that included beef marrow, parsley, tarragon and shallots. Then, it was cooked between two other pieces of “disposable” beef: with the cut for Chateaubriand being so thick, the concern was that the steak would still be raw inside while the outside had already started to burn. The two pieces of beef covering the Chateaubriand on either side would burn, but that was their purpose anyway, and they were discarded afterward. The Chateaubriand itself would then be cut on a slant in half, for two people.
There are many variations on the story of how the dish actually got its name. Most are variations on it being “invented” for and named after French author François Chateaubriand, by his chef Montmireil. Some have Chateaubriand living at the time in England as a refugee from the French Revolution in a manor also called “Chateaubriand”, some have him living in England as French Ambassador to the Court of St James. Others have him living in Paris at the time.
It is likely, though, that all of these stories are spurious, as unfortunately most of the easy explanations in food history are. Alan Davidson, in “The Penguin Companion to Food” (London, 2002) writes: “A tedious accretion of tales about the origin of the name was robustly hacked out of the way by Dallas (1877) in Kettner’s Book of the Table…”
|Beard, James. American Cookery. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 1972. Page 260.