The tail of a beef tenderloin is often discarded and may account for 30 percent of its weight, making the purchase of a whole tenderloin, with the tail, seem extravagant. While the tail cannot be utilized for filet mignon, it's still some of the finest beef available. Look to classic recipes for opportunities to use this overlooked piece of the tenderloin. Considering that a whole tenderloin can yield several servings of beef stroganoff as well as chateaubriand and a few filet mignons, purchasing a whole tenderloin may not be such an indulgence after all.
Rediscovering a Classic
Beef stroganoff's reputation has suffered from decades of poor renditions and is often considered dated at best. In the middle of winter, particularly, stroganoff made in the classic Russian tradition will have you stocking tenderloin tail meat well into summer. Full of mushrooms and shallots all mixed in a rich roux, beef stroganoff is rich, delicious, and relatively simple to execute well.
Real Stroganoff Begins with Roux
Make a roux from equal parts butter and flour, whisked in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until browned, about two minutes. Slowly stir about 2 cups of good-quality beef stock, and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, another two minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and cover the pan to keep it warm.
A Simple Medley of Ingredients
Preheat light olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, brown inch-square pieces of tenderloin tail, turning once, for no more than two minutes total. Use metal tongs to transfer the beef to a plate lined with paper towels. Reduce the heat to medium, deglaze the skillet with a little white wine, and add thinly sliced shallots. Saute the shallots until they turn golden brown, about three minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid and are lightly browned, another five minutes.
It All Comes Together
Reheat the sauce over medium-low heat. Add a little dijon mustard and sour cream until the sauce becomes creamy and light brown in color. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the browned tenderloin tail meat to the mushrooms and shallots. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for another two minutes. Combine the meat mixture with the sauce and serve over wide egg noodles. Don't feel bad that you no longer crave filet mignon.
- On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals; Sarah R. Labensky
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
- The Gourmet Cookbook; Ruth Reichl
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