The tenderloin of beef is located in the short loin. It is a long cut, thick at one end, called the "butt," tapering to the thin "tail" end. Because this muscle is not worked by the animal, it is very lean and tender without any significant fat marbling. A luxurious and expensive piece of meat, the tenderloin is not prized so much for it beefy flavor, but for its tenderness and affinity for rich sauces.
When prepared as a whole, the tenderloin is often labeled "beef loin tenderloin roast." In French it is called the filet de boeuf or chateaubriand. In the United States, chateaubriand generally refers to a recipe featuring a double portion piece of the tenderloin, not the cut of meat itself. A tenderloin roast is used in the classic preparation Beef Wellington.
Most often this cut of beef is used to make an individual steak called a filet mignon. Other terms are tournedos, medallions or tenderloin steak. Due to the exceptional leanness of this steak and its mild taste, it is often wrapped in bacon, paired with red-wine reduction sauces or savory ingredients such as mushrooms.
How to buy beef tenderloin
Since this is an expensive cut served on special occasions, it pays to search out a butcher or shop known for its fine meats. In addition to selecting the best beef available, the butcher can trim the tenderloin to order, share tips for achieving exceptional results and suggest methods for preparation.