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Beef Tenderloin Done in the Dead of Winter or “The Joe” (with a bonus turkey breast)

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I have to apologize for how long it took to get this up on the site.  For some reason I didn’t think I had the pictures for this and kept waiting for dad to send them to me, but then I checked and found that I had them.  It may be spring, but we got five inches of snow in St. Louisa couple weeks ago, so it still seems appropriate.  I’ll hand it off to Dad now…

Inspired by a Herculean winter grilling effort by our friend Joe Bonwich around the holidays in 2009, I endeavored to provide my guests with grilled beef tenderloin and thus this episode is aptly titled “The Joe”. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe he had a difficult time with grilling this cut of beef for his guests during the inclement weather he was dealt then. Little did I know that when I began, a few curve balls would be tossed my way as well.

It’s Christmas Eve and a perfect snowstorm has arrived—just about the coolest thing for a Grillin Fool! The fluffy white stuff will turn this winter grillin effort into a garage grillin episode.

I selected 2 whole beef tenderloins about 4 lbs. each and they were simply seasoned with the ingredients after coming to room temperature.

Ingredients:

2 – 4lb tenderloins
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh medium or coarse grind black pepper
granulated garlic—a simple dusting will do
one tenderloin was basted with Andria’s Steak Sauce

The packaging on the tenderloins indicated they were already trimmed although I did need to remove some minor amounts of silver skin remaining but it was not a big deal.

Notice the uneven thickness of the tenderloins? I decided to tie them with butcher twine to even that out just a bit. I guess I could’ve tied them together with opposite ends connected (fat end to skinny) as I’ve done with pork tenderloins but I planned on basting one of them with Andria’s Steak Sauce so they were kept separate.

I stopped buying my cooking twine locally because it is so expensive for the most pitiful little rolls. I got mine on Amazon with that stainless holder above that I can refill again and again. If you just want the ball of cooking twine, they have that too.

In order to vary the menu a bit and offer our guests a meal alternative, a fresh turkey breast was also prepared for the other grill. A simple mixture of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (substitute the real thing if you wish), granulated garlic, and smoked paprika were mixed together and inserted under the bird’s skin.

Traditional to our family on Christmas Eve, a large bowl of Gulf shrimp from Skinner’s Seafood on Dauphin Island are boiled and chilled for a tasty appetizer of shrimp cocktail at the Grillin Fool household for Christmas.

What could be better than firing up a Char-Broil 940X? Firing up 2 of them! One is over 20 years old and the other is new this year courtesy of Chef Barry and the good folks at Char-Broil.

The smoke wood  is a combination of apple and cherry chips that have been soaking for 2 days for maximum smoke production.

When grillin a very lean cut such as tenderloin it is imperative that grill grates are cleaned of debris and well oiled. The grates are rubbed with a paper towel soaked in olive oil to prevent the beef from sticking.

A bottle of red wine is decanted a couple of hours before dinner—a great 2008 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir suggested by business associate and friend Don H.

The coals are ready and it’s time to get this affair rolling in earnest. The tenderloins are seared on all sides for approximately 5 minutes per side. Notice the crust developing?

The tenderloins were then put off to the side with no heat to bake until done.

Meanwhile, the turkey breast was done with the flank method, coals on the outside, meat in the middle.

White wine was added to the remaining mixture of ingredients that had been stuffed under the turkey breast skin, heated, then applied to the breast every 30 minutes with a basting brush with wood chips added at the same time. By basting, adding wood chips, and adding more briquettes (as needed) all at once limits the number of times the firebox is opened thus minimizing heat loss. This is essential when winter grilling to maintain temperature, as in cold weather it could take 20 minutes for the grill to get back up to temp after the lid is open.

Temps are reading 375 a half hour into cooking.

Once the tenderloin is seared all around it was moved to the cooler side of the grill-away from the coals-to bake and warm. The thicker ends are placed nearest the fire.

This fire has been reduced to 275 in the middle of the grill which should be correct to yield a perfect medium-rare just in time for dinner. The temp probably needs to be lowered a bit more to prevent overcooking. Another alternative would be to remove the tenderloins at this time, wrap in foil, and place in a 200 degree oven until resting and then serving. That is not an option this time around as Mimi has the oven occupied with other treats for the dinner

One tenderloin (on the right) is basted with Andria’s Steak Sauce every 30 minutes or so.

And here’s the turkey breast ready go come off.

Here comes the curveball I wasn’t expecting (or maybe it was a Bob Gibson fastball?). Mother Nature was kind enough to bless us with our first white Christmas Eve in many years so many of our guests were delayed in their travel to our house including The Original Grillin Fool, Scott, and his family. Scott and crew didn’t arrive until 7:30 and I had scheduled the tenderloins and turkey to be ready an hour earlier. Cooking time originally planned to be about an hour and a half was now 2 ½ hours. I had reduced the heat as much as possible but the meat kept cooking although slowly. The result? My eagerly anticipated medium-rare beef tenderloin was now cooked to medium—still pink but not as juicy as I desired.

The turkey was fine but was not as moist as my usual effort with this recipe.

Both had great flavor and were enjoyed by all but fell short of the standards I’ve set for myself.

Perhaps I was the one most disappointed as the dinner guests heartily devoured both entrees particularly the beef. We’ve stated this before, when things go awry or we make mistakes we show and share them with you. While this wasn’t a failed effort it was just not as good as it could’ve been. I found myself wondering if Joe B. had to face similar issues when he attempted winter grillin’ the previous Christmas. Doin’ “The Joe” may require a repeat effort.

***Editor’s note ~ Having had both the turkey and the tenderloin, I can guarantee that both were outstanding.  True, I like my beef redder than what we had but it was still tender, juicy and delicious.  And besides, it was Christmas Eve.  It was good times had by all, particularly dad with his new shirt I got him***

And of course…

If you have any questions or comments about either of these dishes, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.

If you would like other beef dishes done on the grill, click here, or here for poultry.

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  • http://www.chadgouldarchitect.com chad gould

    Hi, I live in Michigan and am planning on cooking a 5 lb beef tenderloin on my charcoal grill for Christmas dinner. I was wondering if the 1.5 hour cooking time you were planning on was compensating for winter temps? Also wondered if you slowed the beef down to keep pace with the turkey? I am just wondering how early I have to get things rolling on Christmas morning to have an early afternoon dinner:) any other tips would be great.

    thanks, Chad

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Chad,

      Cooking time can be greatly impacted by the winter weather, particularly in Michigan. A couple tricks you could do is set up a wind break or put the grill somewhere shielded from the wind. Also, limit the number of times you open the lid. Ad plenty of smoke wood and charcoal so you don’t have to keep opening the lid. I would also let the grill get good and hot and leveled off around 300 for a good 30 before putting the beef on. I’ve never tried to slow the tenderloin down to keep pace with a turkey that could take a lot longer because most turkeys are close to 3 times the size. Good luck and tell us how it went. Also, try this recipe for beef tenderloin:

      http://grillinfools.com/blog/2013/11/26/holiday-beef-tenderloin/

      Merry Christmas!

      …….Scott