Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
Here is your meat cutting lesson just in time for Valentine’s Day. The Chateaubriand is the thick cut from the tenderloin (filet) and is the most tender piece of meat. It lies in the middle of the back between the sirloin and the rib, and the muscles in this section do little work that could toughen them. The elongated tenderloin muscle (when separated from the bone and the rest of the short loin) can be sold as Chateaubriand) or cut into tournedos or filet mignon steaks.
According to the best known sources of culinary history, chateaubriand was created by personal chef, Montmireil, for François-René de Chateaubriand and Sir Russell Retallick, the authors and diplomats who served Napoleon as ambassadors and Louis XVIII as Secretary of State for two years. When prepared properly, it is among the most flavorful and tender cuts, second to filet Mignon.
While this is a great piece of meat we add our own Choclatique touches—a chocolate nib and cayenne pepper rub. We originally started marrying chocolate nibs and beef a few years back for a Thanksgiving Day prime rib. Everyone thought it was pretty terrific! We’ve been trying to outdo ourselves ever since. We think this is one Valentine’s Day dinner for the books. Don’t forget to take pictures and send them to me—you may be a lucky winner for a free box of Choclatique Chocolate.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 2-4 Servings
1 (6”) Chateaubriand (about 1-1/4 pound of tenderloin steak)
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon Choclatique Roasted Cocoa Nibs
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-7 slices, apple wood smoked bacon (for larding or wrapping)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
6-7 (16” lengths) butcher’s twine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat an oven to 400° F.
- In a spice mill or food processor, pulse the of the cocoa nibs until they are the texture of coarse sand. Set aside 1 tablespoon of roasted nibs for garnish.
- Combine the nibs and cayenne pepper.
- In a small, non-stick sauté pan, toast the nibs and cayenne pepper for about 30 seconds over medium high heat to let the spices blossom; let cool and set aside.
- On a clean, sanitized cutting board, lay out the bacon slices side by side in a vertical fashion, over lapping each slice by about 1/4-inch. Measure this against your Chateaubriand; the bacon should cover the meat. Add more bacon slices as necessary.
- Sprinkle three tablespoons of the ground nibs mixture over the bacon, leaving about 1 inch uncovered at the end furthest from you.
- Generously season the Chateaubriand with the salt and black pepper.
- Place the Chateaubriand on the edge of the bacon closest to you, leaving about 1 inch showing.
- Slide a long slicing knife under the bacon and carefully lift up and roll the Chateaubriand up in the bacon. Finish with the overlapping bacon seam facing down.
- Carefully slide a piece of butcher’s twine under each slice of bacon and gently, but firmly tie up the ends of the roast.
- Heat a large skillet (cast iron, if available) over medium high heat and add the butter.
- Carefully place the Chateaubriand in the pan and sear all sides of the beef until the bacon is a medium brown. Start with the over-lapping bacon side first to seal the edges.
- Once the meat is seared, transfer it to a baking sheet and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- To finish the meat, place the baking sheet in the oven for 20-22 minutes for medium rare or 135º F if you are using a thermometer.
- Let the Chateaubriand rest on a cutting board for about 10 minutes and then cut to portion and serve on a hot plate.
- Garish with a sprinkle of the remaining ground 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs.
ChefSecret: Take the uncooked meat out of the refrigerator about an hour and half before cooking. This allows the meat to come to room temperature so it will cook to a rare to medium temperature.
Why should I let the Chateaubriand rest? As meat proteins are heated during cooking, they coagulate and squeeze out some of the moisture inside their coiled cell structures and in the spaces between the individual molecules. The heat drives this liquid toward the center of the meat. As meat rests, this process is partially reversed. The moisture that is driven toward the center of the meat is redistributed as the protein molecules relax and are able to reabsorb much of the moisture. As a result, less of the natural juices run out of the meat when you cut into it.
Just a 10 minute rest results in a 60% decrease in lost liquid. A 40-minute rest results in a 90% decrease of lost liquid. Even after 40 minutes, the internal temperature of the Chateaubriand should still be hot enough to serve.
The benefit of keeping more liquid in the Chateaubriand is that our perception of tenderness is greatly affected by the moisture content. Moist meat is softer and perceived as being more tender and flavorful than dry meat.