This summer one of my most popular cooking classes featured a Provencal menu. Along with a fig and mint pizza, I included a beef tenderloin rubbed with herbes de Provence, that was then roasted and served with homemade aioli, Provence’s celebrated garlic mayo. Haricots verts scented with orange peel and poached summer cherries for dessert rounded out the menu.
The glorious fillet of beef was definitely the winning dish. I discovered that many students, although they loved this cut of meat (which is expensive), were unfamiliar with how to cook it, and were searching for a fail-safe method to prepare it.
Nothing could be simpler than the recipe featured here and in that class. A tenderloin, trimmed and tied by the butcher, is rubbed lightly with oil, and then coated with a mélange of herbes de Provence, kosher salt, and black pepper. After a quick browning, it is transferred to the oven for about 40 minutes. The secret to the recipe’s success is to cook the meat until it is medium rare and a meat thermometer registers 135 to 140 degrees when inserted into its center. The homemade aioli took less than 15 minutes, from start to finish, to prepare in a food processor.
Served at room temperature, rather than warm, accompanied by a bowl of the garlic mayo, this is a striking dish to anchor a summer supper or party. During class I watched as my students helped themselves to seconds and even thirds of this Provencal-inspired main course. I probably don’t need to mention that there weren’t any leftovers!
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Roast Fillet of Beef Coated with Herbes de Provence Served with Aioli
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large egg yolks plus 1 large whole egg (See note.)
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
A 3 to 3 1/ 2 - pound center cut beef tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and tied
2 tbsp herbes de Provence
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for rubbing on the tenderloin
equipment needed: flameproof roasting pan and roasting rack
1. For aïoli mash garlic and salt together in a small bowl so that it resembles a coarse paste.
2. Place egg yolks, whole egg, lemon juice, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor. Process several seconds until all the ingredients are well blended. Combine oils in a measuring cup with a spout. With processor running, slowly add oil in a very thin stream through the feed tube (in some models there is a small hole in the bottom of the feed tube plunger which will dispense the oil in a thin stream) until all oil has been added and mixture is thick and smooth. Add garlic and puree several seconds. Place mayonnaise in a nonreactive serving bowl. (Mayonnaise can be prepared 1 day ahead; keep covered and refrigerated.) Makes 2 cups.
3. For beef fillet arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Pat the roast dry with paper towels, then rub lightly with olive oil. Combine herbes de Provence, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and pat on all surfaces of the meat. Heat olive oil until hot, but not smoking in a large, flameproof roasting pan that is set over two burners on medium high heat. Brown tenderloin on all sides, about 5 minutes.
5. Transfer meat to a roasting rack set on the rack in the roasting pan. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 135 to 140 degrees for medium rare, 35 to 40 minutes or slightly longer. Watch carefully. Remove from the oven. Tent meat loosely with foil and let it rest 15 to 20 minutes.
6. To serve, cut the meat in 1/4 -inch thick slices, and arrange, slightly overlapping, on a platter. Serve with a bowl of aioli. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: The aioli contains eggs that are not cooked, which is not recommended for those with immune deficiencies.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2018