This was the main dish for Christmas dinner. The beef tenderloin was delicious and simple, in fact the whole meal for 9 people came together in about two hours. Of course beef tenderloin is a bit pricey to be an everyday meal, but these braised onions are so melt-in-your-mouth amazing they would make any cut of beef or pork or even chicken taste special. The braising gives the onions a deep, sweet, carmelized flavor. They were a big favorite at the Christmas dinner. The onions take a long time in the oven, but the preparation couldn't be easier. The balsamic reduction is also a slow, but easy process that yields a delicious, and very different, "steak sauce." Even if you aren't a big fan of vinegar, the reduction process takes it from its normal, tart taste to a sweet, syrupy sauce.
Beef Tenderloin w/ Braised Onions
Serves 8-10 people
2 shallots, optional
4 cups of chicken broth
4 tbs. butter
pinch of salt
1 airline-size bottle cognac (50 ml, about 3.5 tbs.), optional
Beef and balsamic reductions
4-5 lb. beef tenderloin
3 tbs. butter
coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
-In a dutch oven* on the stove top on moderate heat, bring the chicken broth, butter, and pinch of salt to a simmer.
-In the meantime, cut the onions and shallots in half and remove the skin.
-When the chicken broth is simmering, remove the dutch oven from the heat and carefully place the onions cut-side down into the pot. Put the lid on the dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven. Braise for 1 hour.
-Remove the lid from the dutch oven, add the cognac, and return the onions to the oven. Braise for another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the tops are golden brown and most of the liquid is reduced to a glaze.**
Beef and balsamic reduction
-One hour before serving time, put the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a small sauce pan on moderate heat to reduce. The vinegar will reduce by more than half. It is done when it is a syrupy consistency that sticks to the back of a metal spoon. If you run your finger across the back of the spoon after it is dipped in the vinegar, your finger should form a clear line in the sauce. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
-Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
-Rub the beef tenderloin with the butter and sprinkle with the black pepper. Insert a meat thermometer into the heart of the meat.
-Place the tenderloin in the preheated oven. For medium doneness, cook until 140 degrees, for medium rare cook to 130-135 degrees. (Medium is actually reached at 145 degrees, but when the meat is removed from the oven, residual heat continues to cook the meat while it is resting.) Remember, the ends will be more done than the center.
-Place the tenderloin on a platter and tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting so the juices redistribute. Don't remove the meat thermometer probe until the meat is done resting or the juices will spurt out.
-While the meat rests, take the pan juices from the roasting pan and incorporate them into the balsamic reduction over low heat.
-Slice the tenderloin and serve with braised onions and warm balsamic reduction.
*If you don't have a dutch oven, you can heat the broth in a sauce pan, then place the onions in a deep baking dish, pour the broth over them, and cover the dish tightly with foil.
**When making the braised onions with the beef tenderloin, the oven temperature will have to be raised to 500 degrees for part of the time top cook the beef. The onions might cook slightly faster, but they will still be fine.