Châteaubriand for Two w/Sauce Béarnaise
Châteaubriand is a dish named for 19th-century French statesman and author François Châteaubriand. It consists of a piece of beef cut from the center of the tenderloin that's large enough for two people, making it an elegant yet easy entree for a romantic dinner at home. Topped with Sauce Béarnaise and accompanied by simple side dishes, it is the perfect menu for an intimate Valentine's Day dinner.
- 14 to 15 ounces beef tenderloin (see notes)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sauce Bearnaise (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 400°F and season the beef liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and sear until lightly browned on all sides, turning with tongs as needed, about 3 minutes total.
Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registers 125° for medium rare. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Tell your butcher that you are making Châteaubriand and have him cut a 14 to 15-ounce section of the tenderloin from the very center and be sure he trims any fat and silver skin as well. You should have a beautiful looking, lean cut of beef measuring 2-1/2 to 3-inches in diameter and 5 to 6 inches long when he's done.
Serve with Sauce Béarnaise.
Makes 2 servings
- Sauce Béarnaise
- 1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon shallots, very finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) butter, melted
- 3 large egg yolks
Combine the vinegar, wine, shallots, tarragon leaves, peppercorns and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until reduced by about 75%. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, then strain into a small bowl, pressing the shallot mixture with the back of a spoon to squeeze out all of the liquid. You should have about 2 tablespoons. If you're short, just add a little water to make up the difference.
Rinse and dry the saucepan and add the butter. Melt completely over medium heat and set aside for 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully skim off most of the foam that forms with a spoon and set aside. Removing the foam helps the sauce to emulsify.
Place 1/2 to 3-4-inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Find a heatproof bowl that will fit over the simmering water without actually touching it during cooking. A distance of about 1-1/2 inches between the water and the bottom of the bowl is ideal. We generally use a stainless mixing bowl over a 2-quart saucier.
Place the egg yolks and strained vinegar mixture into the heatproof bowl and whisk together until blended. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk vigorously as the eggs thicken and increase in volume, scraping the sides frequently to keep the mixture cooking evenly. You must whisk continually until the eggs have thickened to the point where you can see thin ribbons form when you lift the whisk. This should take about 5 minutes.
To finish the sauce, whisk in the melted butter in a very slow drizzle. The sauce will thicken and develop a glossy sheen. Pour into a sauce boat and serve immediately.
Makes about 1 cup
Note: Béarnaise can be made up to 1 hour in advance and kept warm in a very clean thermos, but for safety sake, don't keep it any longer.