Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast
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Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast is a one pot meal that’s BIG ON FLAVOR with tender beef and buttery baby potatoes.
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A Southern Christmas Dinner Menu & Southern Christmas Recipe Ideas
With gratitude and appreciation, this recipe is adapted from our Friends at America’s Test Kitchen
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
How’d you like a tenderloin recipe where there was a whole lot less fuss while preparing the meat, but an end product that looks and tastes like you slaved through every step? Thanks to our good friends over at America’s Test Kitchen, such a recipe does in fact exist! Their super-secret ingredient? Baking soda.
A traditional method of preparation for good cuts of beef involves searing the meat before cooking it. Searing helps red meat to retain its moisture by “locking in the juices” as the meat roasts. In this method, baking soda alleviates the need for a messy and clumsy sear to a BIG cut of meat. How? Baking soda raises the Ph level in the meat which encourages browning and the development of a beautiful crust.
Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast
All traditions have to start somewhere.
The formality that is Christmas Eve, and a beautiful beef tenderloin, roasted low and slow to a perfect medium rare temperature, has Santa wishing he was getting more than just a plate of cookies…
I guess you could say that I started it based on something my grandmother told me about her childhood and growing up.
That despite the Depression, her dad, my great grandfather, always managed to provide the family with a beef roast for great grandma to prepare for Christmas.
When she told me, it made me a little sad and a lot of happy all at the same time.
To think that there was a time that it was that hard to get, but to also know that now it is so easy for me to do for her, just clicked.
So, it was then, about ten years before her death that I began the Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast tradition.
Do You Have What’s Needed to Make This Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast? Check The List!
- 3-lb highest quality cut beef tenderloin roast
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Baking soda
- Olive oil
- Baby red potatoes
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Smoked paprika
Optional Ingredient: Aleppo pepper
How This Recipe Came About…
Christmas Day is all about a big old pancake, bacon and scrambled eggs breakfast while still in pajamas, and an early, less formal dinner consisting of some types of fishes and seafood, and almost always a pasta.
In between, the snacking endures, cookie pilfering behind my mother’s back being the biggest misdeed.
It is an unorganized day, spent largely searching for correct sized batteries for new gizmos to operate, naps, reminiscing, and lots of good food.
But the formality that is Christmas Eve, and a beautiful beef tenderloin, roasted low and slow to a perfect medium rare temperature, has Santa wishing he was getting more than just a plate of cookies…
Starting with a great cut of beef, the addition of a few simple seasonings, and allowing for a one-hour room temperature pre-cook rest, will yield an outcome so incredible, you will earn bragging rights even before you know how you did it.
Beef tenderloin roasts are a near perfect solution for a crowd who would otherwise all want their steaks cooked differently.
Tenderloins are typically uneven in shape and weight from end to center to end.
Despite requiring a few ‘alterations’ to promote even cooking, the ends usually finish a firm medium, an inner cut a medium rare, and the center of the roast rare.
Allowing the meat to rest tented tightly under foil for 20 minutes following the cook, allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to be delicately fork tender.
Top with some of the pan sauce in the pan and a dollop of Whipped Horseradish Cream when you get ready to serve.
How To Make A Beef Tenderloin Roast?
The flavor of horseradish will absolutely elevate the roast.
Starting with a great cut of beef, the addition of a few simple seasonings, and a one-hour room temperature pre-cook rest, will yield an outcome so incredible.
This Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast will earn you bragging rights even before you know how you did it.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention the secret ingredient behind how a cut of beef of this size cooked low and slow, can actually achieve browning.
Coupled with a salt rub and a pre-cook hour long rest, the beef has time to uniformly allocate moisture throughout and to retain that moisture during the cook.
If not allowed the hour-long pre-cook rest and roasting too soon after salting, the results will assuredly offer a dry piece of meat, so planning ahead to give the salt enough time to work its magic is crucial.
The preparation for this roast could not be easier – bloom the aromatics, sauté the potatoes in those aromatics for a few minutes, then lay your trimmed and tied tenderloin atop.
A low and slow uncovered roast is ready for a crowd in not so many hours…
Planning ahead so enough time is guaranteed for this recipe is crucial…
You will 100% need an instant read meat thermometer and kitchen twine for this method.
To accompany this beautiful roast, we’ll prepare baby red potatoes.
These make for filling and buttery side to our tenderloin. The baby reds are creamy and sweet in flavor, and really maintain their shape during the cook.
They will cleverly act as a base for the roast in the method.
Because this recipe is largely hands off once it’s in the oven, concentrating on your family and guests can be your focus…unless of course you have side dishes to make…oh the side dishes…
Christmas Dinner Beef Tenderloin Roast
- roasting pan
- 3 pounds beef tenderloin roast highest quality you can purchase
- 2 ¾ teaspoons salt divided
- 1 ¼ teaspoons black pepper divided
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds baby red potatoes washed and patted dry
- 5 large scallions sliced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ to ¾ cups water
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper for added smoke, heat, and sweetness
- Rinse and pat dry the beef tenderloin. Combine the 2 1/4 teaspoons of the Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of the black pepper, and the baking soda and stir together. Liberally coat the roast all over including the ends with the seasoning. Using 10" lengths of kitchen twine, begin tying off the roast directly in the center.
- Tie every 1 1/2″ inches working your way outward from center to end to end. If an end is very thin, bend it back and tuck it alongside the roast, securing with the twine. You want the overall look of the roast to be equal from end to end, and the twine will aid in the even cooking. Snip off any long pieces of twine after tying and discard.
- Allow roast to sit at room temperature for at least one hour for the salt to equitably draw, then redistribute moisture throughout the roast.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a roasting pan over a stove top burner, bloom the aromatics by first heating 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the scallions, garlic, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper (if using), and the remaining Kosher salt and remaining black pepper. Stir until fragrant.
- Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. As fond begins to build up on the bottom of the roasting pan, turn off the heat and add the water into the roasting pan, scraping the bits of fond to loosen. Place the potato mixture into the oven for 15 minutes uncovered.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven. Reduce heat to 300 degrees.
- Stir and gather the potatoes onto the middle of the roasting pan.
- Brush the roast with about a tablespoon of olive oil all over and place the roast directly on top of the potatoes. No part of the roast should be touching the roasting pan, rather the potatoes act as a bed.
- Place back into the oven for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers at 125 for medium rare. I recommend turning the roasting pan half way through cooking to promote even doneness.
- Remove the roast and potatoes from the oven and turn off the heat. Tent the roast and the potatoes in foil for 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Do not skip this step.
- Remove the ties with kitchen shears and discard. Slice in 1/2" slices and arrange on a pretty platter with potatoes alongside. Top with scant amount of persillade sauce in the bottom of the pan. Serve with Whipped Horseradish Cream if desired.
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I can feel that tenderloin melting in my mouth! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner Party – Have a great weekend.
This recipe is too good to be true, but…IT IS! I’ve made this several times now following your directions exactly and there is a perfect temperature slice of filet mignon for everybody. I will be preparing for Christmas again this year!
Margo, thank you so much! It’s doable with or without the potato/aromatics part if you JUST want the roast. That’s how I will do ours this year, as I want to serve it with my Parmesan-Crusted Southern Mashed Potatoes instead 🙂 Merry Christmas!
If not using he potatoes or aromatics, would you just place the beef on a roasting rack in the pan?
Jennifer, yes that is correct. Still follow through with the rub, the baking soda, the rests…all of it. The ONLY THING that changes is you will lay across a meat rack within your roasting pan so the meat is not touching the pan. I’m doing mine this way, too. I’ll follow this up with an email to you 🙂 Jenny
How long would you recommend cooking if you were doing a 1.5 lb beef tenderloin? Following the exact same directions but unclear on what the cooking time would be.
Kristen, do not go by time, go by temperature. You must have an instant read thermometer for this method, as it alone will be the tool you’ll use to gauge doneness, not the clock. What I would recommend, would be to begin testing for doneness at 50 minutes. Place the thermometer right smack dab in the middle of the roast. 125°F to 135°F is rare to medium rare. Anything to the left or to the right and going toward each end is more done than medium rare at that moment. My photos are largely unedited, and I am showing medium rare in each of them, as this is my mom’s favorite temperature. If that is still too rare for you, place back into the oven and test every 15 minutes using the same testing procedure.
Now since you may be doing a smaller roast, and if you will be doing the potatoes this way, I recommend increasing the time the potatoes have in the oven on their own with the aromatics by 10 full minutes.
I will send you an email to follow this reply so you can know how to reach me should you have questions 🙂 Jenny
We are hosting 16 people on Christmas Eve. I will be making this roast. I “test drove” this recipe over the weekend and it came out AMAZING! I bought a very large roast (6 lbs!) from Costco and cut it into 2 separate roasts. If we get extra eaters, I’ll be ready! I will also be doing your creamed onions and southern mashed potatoes in lieu of the potatoes in with the roast. Do I need a rack if I want to roast without the potatoes?
Elisabeth, I’m glad you loved it! DO try the creamed pearl onions. DO try the southern parmesan crusted mashed potatoes! And yes, you DO NEED a rack if you do not use the potatoes. Follow the recipe exactly, omitting the aromatics and potatoes. Place the beef roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Look for a minimum temp of 125°F to 130°F for medium rare, longer if you want it more done. PLEASE let me know how it turns out and how your guests enjoy it! X – Jenny
We love beef tenderloin on Christmas day as well. I never heard the baking soda trick and I’m so glad you shared it! I cannot wait to try it! Have a Merry Christmas Jenny!
Stacie!!! You’ve been on my mind – how have you been? Thank you so much for this kind comment. I hope you do make the roast and I hope you ultimately LOVE IT. I cannot take credit, as America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Country were the ones to shed light on the baking soda hack. I just ended up running with it! Merry Christmas, Stacie and let’s plan to compare notes in the new year! x – Jenny
Congratulations, your post is featured on Full Plate Thursday, 619 this week. Thanks so much for sharing with us and hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
HELEN!!! Thank you!!! Merry Christmas, friend, and looking forward to 2023 with you and the Country Cottage 🙂 Jenny
Excited to try this for our Christmas Eve dinner! Do you think a cast iron skillet to work in place of a roasting pan? If so, would you recommend any changes to the potato roasting and/or resting time (as it retains heat for longer than a normal pan)?
Michelle, glad you asked this question! I have done this before and it worked, BUT…your cast iron must be BIG. At no time can the meat touch any part of the pan. That said, the remainder of the recipe is exactly the same. I do recall adding slightly more water to my cast iron, about 3/4-cups because I was worried about my potatoes sticking and burning. I do not know if the water helped, however they did not stick, and did not burn. Do not go by the pan or the notion that the cook time must be different due to the retention of heat. All of what you said is true, however use your instant read thermometer to test for doneness. 125°F for rare to medium rare is your base temperature. Don’t go by the pan. PLEASE let me know how this turns out for you! I am dying to see pics if you’re proud of the masterpiece you’re about to create! x – Jenny
Can I roast 2, 5 pounders in oven at the same time
Bob, GREAT QUESTION! Yes! The caveat; you must perform a rotation if not two during the roast. Let me explain.
If using two separate pans, rotate twice; once left to right, the other each pan back to front. If using only one pan, just perform a standard rotation. Every oven has a sweet spot and rotating TWO roasts will help with even cooking.
Remember, 125 for rare in the absolute dead center of each roast. Work your way with the instant read thermometer out to the left and right respectively for more well-done temps. YOU control where each one ends in terms of doneness.
Let me know how it goes and by golly, send pics!!! x – Jenny
That is a beautiful roast! These look awesome!! Pinned! I’d be honored if you shared these at our What’s for Dinner party.
Your recipe indicates that the potatoes go into the oven uncovered, but does the tenderloin bake uncovered as well?
Peggy, great question and the answer is yes. All uncovered. Low temp and exposure will get you that gorgeous browning you see in all of my photos 🙂 x – Jenny