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Fennel & Rosemary Beef Tenderloin with Creamy Mustard Sauce

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Serves 6 - 8

  • To learn more, read:
    Quick Prep, Easy Roast
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 89

Nothing says special occasion like beef tenderloin, but this recipe could be the easiest beef tenderloin you ever make. It requires minimal amount of time and toil to assemble and season, and then the oven concentrates the flavors. It cooks for 40 to 50 minutes—enough time to make a salad, set the table, or just relax and enjoy the appetizing aromas filling your kitchen. 

Read Quick Prep, Easy Roast for six additional holiday-worthy roasts, including Spice-Crusted Roast Pork Tenderloin and Rack of Lamb with Ancho-Honey Glaze. And, for more beef tenderloin recipes, visit the Guide to Christmas.  

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2-1/2- to 3-lb. beef tenderloin roast, excess fat trimmed
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, fennel seed, salt, and pepper. Stir to make a paste. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and rub the paste all over the surface of the meat. If necessary, tie the roast at 1-1/2-inch intervals.

Put the roast on a rack on a small, rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 120°F for rare, 125° to 130°F for medium rare, or 135°F for medium, 40 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, mustard, and lemon juice. Season lightly with salt to taste.

Transfer the roast to a carving board (preferably with a well for collecting juices) and let it rest, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes before carving it into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve the beef, passing the mustard sauce at the table.

Make Ahead Tips

The roast can be seasoned and refrigerated up to 4 hours before roasting.

Leftovers

The beef and mustard sauce are both excellent cold, use leftovers for roast beef sandwiches.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 310; Fat (g): fat g 19; Fat Calories (kcal): 170; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 8; Protein (g): protein g 30; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 2; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 300; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 100; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

We had this for Christmas dinner, and it was AMAZING! The flavor of the rub was wonderful, and the cooking (gentler and at a less intense heat than we usually do) was easy and fool proof. The mustard sauce was delicious and my only problem was that we left too early the next day to have the sauce on beef sandwiches! This is a keeper - for special occasions and dinner parties alike!

I made this lastnight for our Valentine's dinner and it turned out excellent! I bought a 2lb beef tenderloin and cooked it at 375 as the recipe states but it took about 90 minutes to cook. I like my meat medium rare but found cooking to the temperature of 127F to be way to rare. I cooked it to 145F and it was still medium rare. I'm thinking next time I'll cook it at 475F as I've noticed alot of recipes recommend instead of 375F. Overall it was simple to prepare and had a great flavor. The mustard sauce was a perfect tangy match!

As other reviewers have stated, buying the best quality beef will make a difference here. If you do, you will be rewarded with a fabulously moist and delicious tenderloin that will have your guests raving. I served this with the potato gratin from FC# 36 (p36-37) and a salad of baby greens with vinaigrette. Don't worry about the fennel if you're not a fan, the taste is subtle and compliments the meat very well. I tweaked the mustard sauce a little bit to adjust to our tastes, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. This is a winner!

Almost impossible to ruin the recipe. A first-rate cut of beef is essential-this is one instance where "you get what you pay for." A probe thermometer is a must to make certain you bake it to the right level of doneness. Next time I'll add more salt to the rub, and some horseradish to the sauce. Otherwise, this was a first-rate Christmas main course.

Not bad, but perhaps the cut of beef should've been better? Put in some horseradish with the creamy mustard sauce to give it a little zip. Next time, I'll add more salt and pepper to the fennel and rosemary.

I made this recipe exactly as stated,it was terrific. Great for company and easy.

Made it for 18 for Christmas dinner and it was a hit and very easy. Make sure you get the best cut of meat you can afford; makes a difference.

I've made this recipe several times with great results. The sauce pairs deliciously with the beef.

I made this recipe exactly as stated, and could not have been happier with the results. I am not a big fan of fennel flavor, but used the fennel seed and rosemary as directed, and it was delicious. It really mellowed in the oven and created a delicious crust. The mustard sauce was fabulous (I used half sour cream and half heavy cream as a substitute for creme fraiche since my supermarket didn't have that). As we were savoring every bite, we thought the sauce would be very good with ham as well, so I will make it for Christmas dinner. My entire menu consisted of a salad of beets (marinated in a lemon tarragon vinaigrette) and goat cheese, baked potatoes, roasted asparagus, and the beef tenderloin roast. It was on a whole other level! Most important of all, make sure you have a really good source for your tenderloin. Quality meat makes a difference!

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