A perfectly cooked beef tenderloin is truly a sight to behold. The delectable cut often made special occasion appearances when I was growing up, but Easter Sunday and its rosy-hued tenderloin tea sandwiches was always a holiday favorite.
After early church and egg hunts in our finest spring whites, my family would race home to enjoy my mother's fabulous Southern spread. All of our favorite mainstays were there. Think buttery deviled eggs and pickled Sea Island shrimp, but her signature beef tenderloin was the ultimate pièce de résistance.
The whole presentation just shouted "celebration!" with stacks of paper thin tenderloin piled high on an heirloom silver platter. The accompaniments were simple, as they should be, just crustless white sandwich bread and plenty of Duke's mayo.
I am aware that beef tenderloin can be a pricey cut of meat, but, in my opinion, its flavor is unparalleled and worth every cent for a special occasion. I personally love serving a roast tenderloin as an hors d'oeuvre, offering it up as part of a slider station. This allows me to cook a smaller cut and get more bang for my buck.
There is no need to be intimidated if you have never cooked one: an instant read thermometer is all that is required to protect your investment.
The best part is that beef tenderloin is ideal to make in advance, since a good chilling allows it to be sliced like a dream. I still have a soft spot for cheap white bread, but warm Parker House rolls are now my clear winner. I gussy up my favorite homemade mayonnaise with a hint of horseradish, but I always keep some plain for those that don't prefer the heat.
Every cook should keep this dish up their sleeves. It continues after all these years to be a runaway hit, and I am reminded why time-tested recipes in all of their simplicity never fail to impress. I guess in this case mothers really do know best.
Beef Tenderloin Sliders with Horseradish Sauce
Serves 6 to 8
For the beef tenderloin:
1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) beef tenderloin, preferably the center cut
2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the horseradish sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise, store-bought or homemade
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, or to taste
2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
Freshly ground black pepper
For the sliders:
Dinner rolls, such as Parker House
Spinach or arugula
Whole grain mustard
Remove tenderloin from the refrigerator at least one hour before cooking. Trim any fat and silver skin from the beef and discard.
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Tie the roast in 1 1/2-inch intervals if necessary and place in a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the beef for 15 minutes. Pour the butter over the beef and continue roasting until it reaches an internal temperature of 130°F for medium rare, 25 to 30 minutes. (The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while resting.)
Allow the meat to cool to room temperature, then wrap in foil and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Cut into very thin slices for sliders.
For the horseradish sauce, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, and milk until desired consistency is reached. Season with black pepper.
Serve sliced beef with dinner rolls, spinach, and horseradish sauce.
- This is a smaller cut of beef tenderloin cooked at a high temperature. For larger cuts, reduce the oven temperature to 400°F after 15 minutes to prevent the meat from drying out.
(Image credits: Nealey Dozier)