The long tenderloin muscle comes from the middle strip of the back of the steer. This little-worked muscle is the tenderest cut of beef and has virtually no marbling. It can be grilled whole or cut into cross sections known as filet mignon steaks. Because of the innate tenderness of this choice meat cut, there is no need to use enzymatic marinades, and acidic marinades are usually only applied for a short amount of time on sliced tenderloin. As beef tenderloin is a lean meat destined to be cooked quickly on medium to hot fire, most marinades include oil to prevent dryness.
Nice and Easy
Simple marinades composed of the bare essentials can work well on tenderloin, particularly when it is served with a sauce or condiment on the side. Combining olive oil with salt and pepper or a beef seasoning mix of your choice is a safe yet gratifying option for tenderloin. A quick and easy marinade idea suggested by grill manufacturer Broil King calls for sprinkling the meat with dry mustard and coating it generously with French salad dressing -- a product that contains oil, acid and seasonings similar to most marinades.
For a traditional take on grilled tenderloin, European influences come into play with wine, Mediterranean herbs and garlic. Combine extra virgin olive oil, thinly sliced or pressed garlic, coarsely cracked black pepper, salt and chopped thyme, marjoram and rosemary into a garlicky herb oil to rub all over the meat, or marinate the king of meat cuts in red wine and soy sauce and then season it with salt, pepper and Provence herbs.
Hot and Smokey
Typical barbecue seasonings such as paprika, chili and brown sugar provide an extra kick for those who like it hot. Beef tenderloin can be rubbed with dark brown sugar, sweet smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder or ancho chili powder before char-grilling; this spice blend pairs well with chimichurri sauce. Coffee-marinated beef tenderloin steaks are made using strong brewed coffee, dark brown sugar, black and red pepper and minced garlic. The Kansas City Steak Company’s spicy bourbon filets are both marinated and basted with a mixture of soy sauce, bourbon, jalapeno-flavored Tabasco sauce and cracked green peppercorns.
Far-Eastern inspirations for tenderloin marinades involve exotic ingredients such as the soybean paste known as “miso,” Hoisin sauce and ginger. Fried garlic, soy sauce, miso paste, sesame oil, sugar and salt blended together make a good miso glaze for grilled beef tenderloin skewers. Miso can also be combined with an assortment of green onions, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, Dijon mustard and dark sesame oil for a sweet, nutty tenderloin marinade. Another option boasting Asian flair brings together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, scallion and ginger root into a marinade for filet mignons.