If you’re like me and have waited until the last minute to decide on what to serve for Christmas, worry no more. A glorious beef tenderloin roasted with plum tomatoes and garnished with a sprinkle of creamy goat cheese might just be the answer. For the past few years my son and I have planned and cooked together our family’s holiday meals. But, this year we are behind and still haven’t chosen our menu for 2013. Since our clan clamors for beef on the 25th, I culled my files, and found a favorite recipe for beef tenderloin roasted with plum tomatoes garnished with creamy crumbles of goat cheese.
I created this dish several years ago for my syndicated column, and am still amazed that it is so deceptively uncomplicated to assemble, and calls for such readily available ingredients. A simple blend of ground black pepper, crushed dried rosemary, and kosher salt forms the basis of the flavoring. Most of this mixture is rubbed over the tenderloin, while the rest is combined with garlic and olive oil and used to marinate plum tomatoes. The meat is browned, and then roasted along with the tomatoes. After 45 minutes in the oven, the tenderloin is rosy pink inside and the tomatoes lightly browned and caramelized.
For serving, you arrange slices of the roast on a platter, surround them with the colorful tomatoes and fresh watercress, then top them with bits of snowy white goat cheese. For easy sides, offer roasted baby Yukon golds or your favorite mashed potatoes and some tender little haricots verts topped with crushed hazelnuts and a dusting of fleur de sel. That would definitely be a last-minute menu worthy of this special holiday.
Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Watercress
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp dried crushed rosemary (See note)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 tbsp olive oil, divided
6 medium plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
A 3-pound center cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed of any excess fat
4 oz creamy goat cheese, crumbled or broken into small pieces
1 bunch of watercress, rinsed and patted dry
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl mix together pepper, rosemary, and salt. Remove 1 1/2 teaspoons of this mixture, and place it in a medium bowl along with half of the olive oil and the garlic.
3. Halve a tomato lengthwise and remove the membranes, seeds, and stem. Turn the tomato upside down on a plate to drain slightly. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Transfer the tomatoes to the bowl with the olive oil and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the beef.
4. Pat the beef dry, then rub it on all sides with the remaining pepper mixture. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large, heavy, flameproof roasting pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking, brown the meat on all sides, turning several times, about 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange the tomatoes hollowed sides up around the roast. Drizzle the meat and tomatoes with any extra marinade. Roast the meat until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 125 to 130 degrees for medium rare and until tomatoes are browned and caramelized, about 45 minutes for both. (The meat and tomatoes usually roast in the same length of time. However, if the tomatoes are not done at the same time as the meat, remove the roast to a platter and cover it loosely with foil; continue to roast tomatoes, 10 to 15 minutes or more.)
6. Let the roast rest 10 minutes, then cut it into 3/4-inch thick slices. Arrange slices slightly overlapping on a serving tray and surround with tomatoes. Top tomatoes with crumbled goat cheese and garnish platter with watercress sprigs. To serve, top meat slices with a tomato or two and a garnish of watercress. Serves 6.
Note: McCormick’s sells dried crushed rosemary. If you can’t find dried crushed rosemary, crush regular dried rosemary in an electric spice mill, or place it in a self-sealing plastic bag and roll over it with a rolling pin.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013
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