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An Elegant Beef Tenderloin Dinner

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Featured in our 2017 Christmas Guide

Roasted whole beef filet is the centerpiece of this holiday-worthy meal, complemented by vibrant sides.

Whole beef filet is an expensive cut, which makes it a perfect special-occasion treat  (for more tips on trimming and cooking the filet, see Roasting a Beef Tenderloin. But unlike that other holiday stalwart turkey, beef filet roasts in less than an hour, so you’ll definitely want to have your side dishes ready to roll before you pop the beef in the oven. Complementing the beef are a garlicky ragoût of flageolet beans and sweet oven-dried tomatoes, and a crisp-yet-earthy mushroom and endive salad. Rich roquefort popovers are a full-flavored alternative to regular rolls.

Menu Timeline

If you have two ovens, you can bake the popovers and cook the meat at the same time. Otherwise, it’s best to bake the popovers first, remove from their pan, and poke with a knife to keep them from getting soggy. Then rewarm them in the hot but turned-off oven while the roasted beef rests.

One to two days ahead:

  • Bake and glaze the bundt cake.
  • Dry the tomatoes.
  • Soak and cook the flageolet beans.

In the morning:

  • Blanch the green beans for the salad.
  • Trim the mushrooms for the salad.
  • Make the vinaigrette for the salad.
  • Trim and tie the beef filet.
  • Make mustard-herb mixture for the beef.

Two hours before dinner:

  • Make the popover batter; bake the popovers, remove from pan and poke with a knife to release steam.
  • While popovers bake, finish the flageolet beans.

45 minutes before dinner:

  • Sear the beef tenderloin, brush with mustard-herb mix and transfer to the oven.
  • While beef is roasting, finish the mushroom-endive salad (but don’t toss with vinaigrette yet).

15 minutes before dinner:

  • Remove the beef from the oven and let rest.
  • Turn off the oven, and return the popovers to the still-warm oven to reheat
  • Toss the salad with the vinaigrette.
  • Slice beef filet and serve.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 2 lb. ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 lb. green beans (preferably haricots verts)
  • 1 lb. cremini or button mushrooms
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 head Belgian endive
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 bulb garlic

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 whole filet of beef (7 to 8 lb. untrimmed or 5 to 6 lb. trimmed)
  • 11 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 13 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. Roquefort cheese

Other Groceries

  • 1 lb. dried flageolet beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 6 Tbs. white truffle oil
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbs. dark rum

Pantry Staples

  • 19 oz. (4-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup canola or other mild-flavored vegetable oil
  • 9 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs. white-wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbs. dried savory
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Table salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

Wine Choices: Beef cries out for red, and those who heed the call have plenty of choices. Lockwood, a California Merlot, is big enough for the seared beef, with plenty of fruit to play off the mustard and herbs. Australian Shiraz would be good, too. Try Penfolds and Lindemans; both have a smooth oak finish and lively black-pepper flavors. To splurge, try a Pomerol like Château de Sales or a St. Emilion like Château Simard. Both of these Bordeaux have good tannins and lots of fruit, which are excellent partners for tenderloin.

For sweet sipping with the orange bundt cake, stash a bottle of late-harvest Riesling in the fridge. Greenwood Ridge from Mendocino has delicious dried peach and honey notes that would be lovely with the buttery cake’s orange-rum flavors.

The Menu

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