Beef tenderloin is a special (and expensive) meal to serve, so you want to be sure to cook it just right. This recipe is a foolproof way to add flavor without having to rely on any complicated techniques. First sear the beef in a frying pan to get a flavorful crust, then rub on a simple compound butter made with garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Roast the tenderloin for about 30 minutes, let it rest, then slice and serve with Hasselback potatoes and mushroom gravy for a memorable Christmas dinner.
Special equipment: You’ll need an instant-read thermometer for this recipe.
Game plan: Depending on how the beef tenderloin is butchered, you may end up with a thicker or thinner portion. This recipe works with both cuts, but timing is crucial to achieve perfect rare to medium-rare beef. Make sure to use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the beef as it cooks. For a thinner piece of meat, check the temperature after 18 to 20 minutes to avoid overcooking it.
- 1Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, pat the beef dry with paper towels. (If one end of the beef is noticeably thinner than the other, tuck the thinner end underneath and tie where you tucked with butcher’s twine. This will help it cook more evenly.) Using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with the oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and rub until evenly coated; set aside.
- 2Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Place the beef in the pan and sear, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and set aside until the surface of the beef is no longer hot, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the butter mixture.
- 3Place the butter, garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a medium bowl and smash with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula until evenly combined. When the beef is ready, evenly rub the butter mixture on the top and sides of the tenderloin.
- 4Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the beef registers 120°F to 125°F for rare or 125°F to 135°F for medium rare, about 25 to 35 minutes.
- 5Transfer the beef to a cutting board and tent it loosely with foil. Let it rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.