When you want to make a gesture of generosity or opulence this holiday season, nothing beats the long cylindrical, supernaturally tender muscle cut from the inside of the steer’s ribcage, beef tenderloin. Yes, it’s an extravagance. And yes, tenderloin may lack some of the rich flavor of prime rib or brisket, but it’s guaranteed to delight the carnivores in your family or circle of friends.
I’ve published many recipes for this luxurious cut of meat over the years, from the dramatic cloth-wrapped, salt-crusted lomo al trapo that’s roasted right in the embers to the Ultimate Cheesesteak—a whole grilled beef tenderloin stuffed with provolone and fire-roasted onions and poblanos.
But my favorite to date is the reverse-seared smoked tenderloin I debuted in Project Smoke: the meat is smoked to an internal temperature of 110 degrees, rests, and is then seared over high heat to produce a nice crust on the outside. The inside remains a rosy rare to medium-rare from edge to edge. It can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature, and can even be cooked the day before. Complement it with Three Hots Horseradish Sauce or your favorite prepared mustard.
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Steven Raichlen is the author of the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and the host of Project Smoke on public television. His web site is BarbecueBible.com.