Chateaubriand is the epitome of fine French cuisine – the center of a beef tenderloin cooked to perfection with a demi-glace wine sauce.
The first time I had Chateaubriand was in the Mirabel Airport in Montreal (many years ago!) It is usually portioned for two on restaurant menus, I guess because otherwise it would just be a tenderloin steak in a 1-portion size.
It arrived on a trolley, tableside where it was carved and plated along with a divine red wine sauce and a variety of vegetables. Of course the whole carving and plating was an exercise on its own!
It was the perfect way to spend a couple of hours waiting for an international flight!
I don’t see it on menus as much anymore. Although that might be because I am no longer in Quebec!
So I was looking forward to making this when I saw the recipe in and old volume of Bonappetit.
This one has brandy in the sauce rather than red wine and it was paired up with these Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots. The potatoes were also a great success.
The traditional accompaniment of ‘Pommes Chateaux’ are potatoes that have been carved or ‘turned’ to make a uniform oblong shape with 6 uniform sides plus a 7th wider flat side. They just look very tidy on the plate!
Chateaubriand is typically served with a number of vegetables like mushrooms, something onion, baby carrots, green beans, broccoli and perhaps a bit of whatever might be at the height of the season. You only need a small amount of each vegetable since there are so many.
Chef’s Tips for Chateaubriand With Mushroom Sauce
- This recipe takes time. The beef needs 24 hours to rest in the rub and it takes time to make the beef reduction – about 3 hours. You can make the beef reduction a couple of days in advance if that is more convenient.
- Start with the best cut of meat. You don’t really see a cut of meat in the supermarket called Chateaubriand – it is the thickest uniform part of the beef tenderloin. So those tapered ends have been trimmed off. I know M&Ms in Canada used to sell a frozen Chateaubriand. I often buy an entire tenderloin at Costco and divide it up myself so I can make a Chateaubriand cut. Otherwise you will want to ask your butcher to cut you one.
- If you want to make this dish extra elegant use exotic mushrooms but if that is not feasible then I suggest Cremini that have a bit of an earthy quality. You could also add in a package of dried mushrooms reconstituted according to the package instructions.
- This recipe deserves demi-glace or beef reduction in the sauce to give it the richness it deserves. If you aren’t up for making it then look to by it at better delis or butcher shops.
Wine Pairing for Chateaubriand
This meal is all about the beef ie the protein. So any red, even the boldest, most tannic read will pair with this. So – go for your favourite. If you want to remain loyal to the French theme then think Chateauneuf du Pape or other Rhone GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend) if you light a full bodied, silky wine. A Bordeaux would also work well here.
I hesitate to recommend anything other than a red here but some people just can’t tolerate red so…. I would then go to an oaked Chardonnay or even a Brut Sparkling.
Tenderloin & Rub
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme minced
- 2 tsps coarse salt
- 2 cloves pressed garlic
- 2.5-2.75 lbs beef tenderloin Chateaubriand cut
- 3 Tbsps olive oil
- 8 cups mushrooms cremini slices or mixture of oyster, chanterelle etc
- 2 Tbsps minced shallots
- 1 clove garlic pressed
- 1 tsp fresh thyme minced
- 4 Tbsps brandy divided 2 + 2
- 1/2 cup 35% cream
- 2 cups demi-glace or beef reductions
- 1 Tbsp flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 lbs beef shank pieces
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 large onion rough chopped
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 8 cups beef broth
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- Mix the thyme, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the beef tenderloin, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and upto 36 hours.
- To cook the tenderloin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan or ovenproof skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, sear the tenderloin on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer pan to the oven and cook until it registers 118 degrees F for rare. (Should be about 28 minutes but check around 20 minutes so you don't overcook it.)
- Transfer tenderloin to a platter and tent loosely for about 10 minutes. Save the pan so you can deglaze it for the mushroom sauce. (See Mushroom Sauce instructions.)
- For the mushroom sauce you 2 choices. You can make it ahead a few hours, let it stand at room temperature and reheat while tenderloin is resting, or you can start it when you put the tenderloin in the oven.
- Heat the 3 Tbsps oil in a large skillet. Sauté the mushrooms about 8 minutes over high heat. Add the shallots, remaining pressed garlic clove and remaining tsp thyme. Cook another 2 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbsps of the brandy and cook 1 minute. Add the cream and cook about 3 minutes. Most of the liquid should be absorbed. (If making ahead set the mushroom mixture aside at this point. Rewarm while tenderloin is cooking and then pick up with the following instructions.)
- Sprinkle flour over the mushroom mixture and stir to coat.
- With the remaining 2 Tbsps of brandy, deglaze the tenderloin roasting pan over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Add to the mushroom mixture.
- Add the Beef reduction or demi-glace to the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium high heat about 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Add remaining tsp of thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice tenderloin and spoon mushroom sauce over slices.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Oil bottom of a roasting pan, Place meat in pan and scatter onions and carrots around shanks. Roast about 25 minutes. Transfer beef and vegetables to a large dutch oven. Deglaze the roasting pan with the brandy, scraping up the brown bits. Transfer to the dutch oven with the meat and vegetables. Add the broth and the thyme sprigs.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat so it simmers for about 2 1/2 hours until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups. Strain out solids. (You can make this up 4 days ahead keeping it in the fridge. When ready to use remove any fat from the surface.)