How to Trim a Whole Beef Tenderloin
December 12, 2016


The holidays are upon us and for many people, this is the one time they fix a whole beef tenderloin.  Roasting a whole tenderloin is super simple to do, but most people skip the actual preparation of trimming the tenderloin, which they leave to their butcher.  This usually makes the tenderloin more expensive to buy. Learning to trim it properly yourself can be a big savings and is easy to do.  I'm going to give you step-by-step photos to show you how. 

I bought this beef tenderloin at Sam's Club for $11.58 per pound. I checked some prices this week - my local Meijer sells them for $24.99/pound, another local small butcher is selling them for $19.99 per pound and my local Whole Foods is selling them for $29.99.  My local Kroger has them for $18.99 per pound.  And it's common for them to be even cheaper, on sale, at this time of year. Most places will charge extra for trimming and some grocers won't trim them at all.  Of course, the quality of beef is going to differ, but I've bought whole beef tenderloins from Sam's Club and they have been delicious.  

This particular tenderloin was 8 pounds, untrimmed.  The trimmings I threw away weighed just a little over a pound.  So when calculating how much meat to buy, you need to take this into consideration.

The tenderloin is covered with fat and silver skin, both of which need to be removed. There is also a "chain" of meat that runs down one side and is easily removed.  This chain contains a lot of fat but also has some good meat.  I usually remove as much fat as I can from the chain and keep that meat for ground meat or kabobs.  It freezes well.

The fat on the tenderloin is easily removed with your fingers and a knife.  The silver skin is the part that takes the most time in removing.  It encases the meat and has to be removed with a very sharp knife, removing as little meat as you can.  Some people do not bother to remove this silver skin, but I think the meat is nicer without it. 

The tenderloin has a thick end (the head or "butt" end) and then a tapered end that is much thinner.  If you want all the meat to be medium rare when cooked, tuck this thin end underneath to try to even out the width. I don't do this because there is a person in our family (who shall go unnamed) who prefers more well done meat. When I cook the whole tenderloin laid out, I get a variety of rare, medium rare and more well done pieces, all for the same cooking time. I slice the tenderloin and  lay out all the pieces and people can choose what they like. It works out well.

The large "butt" end of the tenderloin has a piece that you can either leave attached (see photos) or cutt off and freeze for another use.  Depending on the size of your tenderloin, this piece usually is around a pound of meat.  So if you don't need that much meat, it's a great piece to freeze for later for two people.  

Some people will tie up the tenderloin before roasting. I don't bother.  You can certainly tie it up with kitchen twine if you like, to even out the roast.  You can also cut the tenderloin into separate steaks to roast or grill. 

Roasting a beef tenderloin is a breeze.  You can marinate the meat or not (this is my marinade) but either way, you need to at least season the meat with pepper or Montreal steak seasoning and plenty of sea salt.  Then just place in a large roasting pan with a rack or, if you don't have that, line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil, set a rack on that and place the tenderloin on the rack.  There are a number of ways to roast it - you can sear it first in a pan and then pop it in the oven or just roast it completely in the oven.  You can roast it on high heat for a short period of time like Ina Garten does (500 degrees F. about 25 minutes) or you can roast it on lower heat for a longer period of time (like I do).  I roast mine about 375 degrees for around 30 - 35 minutes (depending on the size of the tenderloin) until the meat is about 125 degrees.  Then I remove from the oven and let it rest, uncovered, for a few minutes before slicing.  The internal temperature will continue to rise a little.  Medium rare is 130 - 135 degrees F. Serving it with some horseradish sauce is nice. 















I hope these step-by-step photos are helpful to you and that you see how simple a process this is and have the confidence to try it yourself!

Have a great holiday, everyone and see you in 2017!

Thanks for stopping by,

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