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January 03, 2013

Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin | The Barefoot Contessa Project

This post is part of my "A Month with The Barefoot Contessa" project.  To read all about the project and to find the index of posts for the project, click here.

When I was catering, sliced Beef Tenderloin was my go-to.  I served it with soft rolls for "heavy hors d'oeuvres," on bite-sized toasts for an elegant passed hors d'oeuvres or thickly sliced with blue cheese sauce (also based on one of the Barefoot Contessa's recipes) as an entree.

My method for preparation was always the same, per the Barefoot Contessa's book, Parties, 500 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, rest 15 minutes, then slice.  Fabulous every time.  Well, almost every time.  On occasion, I would run into an oven that was too hot or a guest that would chat with me a couple minutes too long, only to discover the beautiful beef tenderloin went from perfectly "rare" to "medium" in a matter of two minutes.  When cooking it at that super high temp, just as when grilling, you must time the cooking perfectly to avoid overcooking - or under-cooking.

I read this recipe for Slow-Roasted Filet of Beef (beef tenderloin) on our drive to my sisters on Christmas Day, knowing that I was in charge of cooking the beef tenderloin for dinner that night.  Ina had changed her tune from fast and hot to slow and low with apparently fabulous results.  Hum... it was a big risk.  Not only was it Christmas and everyone was looking forward to feasting on the traditional beef tenderloin, but I wasn't the one who had paid for it.  When you're trusted with a piece of meat for which someone else forked over $100+, you better know what you're doing!

I spent the 3 hour drive researching the slow and low method for beef tenderloin.  After reading several other reviews and recipes that claimed the same as Mrs. Garten, I asked Mike what he thought I should do?

He said, "What's the name of the book?"


I put our Christmas Dinner fate in the capable hands of The Barefoot (...even though, I could hear her saying the back of my head, "Never try a new recipe when you're entertaining - only tried and true recipes that you know will work every time.").

Our Christmas Dinner was a huge success - everyone "oohhing and aahhhing" over the perfectly rare, perfectly tender - almost silky - beef tenderloin.  I shouldn't have doubted her for one minute.

When winter weather interrupted our New Years Eve plans, Mike and I opted to stay in for a night of indulgence.  Beef Tenderloin for two.  

This is what the beef tenderloin section looks like at my grocery store during the holidays.  You can also find them at Costco.  Typically, tenderloins are 5-6 pounds each, making them perfect for a crowd of 10-14 people, generously.  I called our butcher and asked for them to cut a 2 pound section for me. 

Most butchers are happy to do this because they just cut the rest of the tenderloin into filet steaks to sell.  I also had them trim (the fat) and tie it, as you can see above. 

Here is the beef baking at 275 degrees (vs. the typical 500 degrees) after a generous salt and pepper.

I covered it with foil to let it rest.

Ready for carving at approx. 10pm on New Years Eve!

One more closeup... 

Perfectly rare all the way through.  When cooking it at the low temperature vs. high, I found that it cooks more evenly.  Instead of more "medium-well" ends and "rare" center, then entire tenderloin was hot pink and juicy, similar to a prime rib roast.  I highly, highly recommend this method.

A special thanks to "Moo-Moo" for taking the time to come and watch Emma today so I could write more than 2 meaningless sentences and throw some photos up on the blog...

...AND photograph The Barefoot's 1770 House Meatloaf, Green Beans Gremolata, and Salted Caramel Brownies.  Stay tuned - this is fun!

This post is part of my "A Month with The Barefoot Contessa" project.  To read all about the project and to find the index of posts for the project, click here.  

Follow the Pinterest board, "The Barefoot Project" to stay posted throughout the entire project!


  1. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Looks very good. Bet it tasted well. I personally have never cooked one so I think I am going to have to give it a try. Way to go..


  2. Love Barefoot Contessa and have found most of her recipes to be foolproof, from both the old and new cookbooks. Looking forward to your series!

  3. Like you, I always cooked my tenderloin high and fast. Decided to try Ina's method this year for Christmas Eve, with fingers crossed. It was awesome! Silky is the best description. Served with my sister in law's Bearnaise Sauce, so good. And couldn't been any easier.

  4. Looks yummy. How long did you cook it at 275?

  5. My husband loves prime rib, but we usually only have it during the holidays. I am excited to use this recipe for beef tenderloin for a special dinner anytime. Thanks so much! (So fun to follow you making The Barefoot Contessa recipes. She is lovely and so is her food.)

  6. Havent tried that one yet. Yours seems to have turned out great. -Tonya

  7. NJ Heather7:12 PM

    Jenny, I must repeat my comment from your last post and say that I'm so excited you are doing this and will def be following along! I feel like every other blog I read or person I talk to is focusing on cleansing or eating carrots or losing 40 lbs. etc etc and I'm really not interested in that during the winter months! I want to cuddle with my family and cook cozy, delicious meals! Thank you for inspiring :)

  8. Anonymous9:57 PM

    Fabulous! I bought the book today and will learn from your experience. Margaret

  9. Ohhhhhh....this looks soooo good! I wish that had an excuse to make a beef tenderloin (Valentines Day maybe???). What did you serve with the beef?

  10. Hi Jenny - do you get the same nice crust on the outside with the butter, salt & pepper on the low temp as you do at the high temp? Ina's classic high-temp beef tenderloin is a favorite around our house!


  11. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Hi, really enjoying your blog! The recipe for this beef calls for tying tarragon around it but from your pictures, it doesn't seem like you did that. Did you omit the tarragon?

    1. Jenny4:15 PM

      Sandra - i did omit the tarragon. Not sure why, just didn't want to mess with the flavor of the beef!

  12. Anonymous11:20 AM

    It looks so good! Tenderloin is one of my favorites.

    How long did you do the 2# cut?

  13. Anonymous11:50 AM

    I would like to try the smaller tenderloin slow cooked version but don't want to ruin an expensive cut of meat. How many minutes per lb at 275? We like ours really rare! Thanks for the reviews of the book - guess I better get a copy.

  14. I'm hosting " this exact" dinner party for friends this Saturday for Vday! What if we like our beef a little more done/ less rare.?! How long should I cook it do you think!? Like an additional 5-10 minutes maybe?

  15. I'm hosting " this exact" dinner party for friends this Saturday for Vday! What if we like our beef a little more done/ less rare.?! How long should I cook it do you think!? Like an additional 5-10 minutes maybe?

  16. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Jenny-- please help--
    I know that 4 1/2 lb tenderloin is cooked at 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hour per Foolproof, but i'm doing a 2 lb. do you reduce the cook time in half?
    HELP-- this is for a birthday monday night

    1. Jenny1:54 PM

      I've done a 2 pound and I think it took about 40 minutes - start there then check the temp every 5 minutes or so until you reach 125-130 degrees. You'll LOVE it!


  17. social gathering for buddies this Weekend for Vday! What if we like our meat a little more done/ less unusual.?! How lengthy should I prepare it do you think!

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