Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce or Simple Au Jus

My husband and I had been friends for many years before we began dating, so I was mildly intrigued with his plan for our first date. He invited me over—not out—for dinner, and he planned to cook the meal himself.

Aside from heating ramen noodles or tossing a can of corned beef hash into a skillet, he rarely cooked. So when a plate of baked chicken with creamy mushroom sauce appeared as if by magic, I was impressed.

He later revealed that one of his swim team buddies frequently cooked the very same meal throughout their college years, and he had called him for the recipe. It was nothing more than boneless skinless chicken breasts baked with a can of cream of mushroom soup dumped overtop. But at that moment, it tasted truly gourmet.

On Valentine’s Day several years later, I asked if he’d like to replicate the meal for old time’s sake. He politely declined, confessing that he really didn’t like canned cream of mushroom soup but wouldn’t mind a homemade mushroom sauce, preferably served over beef.

Then and there, it was decided that our first dinner would be a delightful memory but not a tradition. The following recipe is my answer to his request, and I’ve built in several options based on price, ease, and individual taste buds.

Beef tenderloin is known as much for its buttery tenderness as it is for its price tag, so it seemed important to have an alternative. I called several stores to price out the options, and found Thayne in the Stauffer’s meat department to be a particularly good source of information.

I asked Thayne several questions about substitutions, prices, and his preferred method of preparation. He explained that a cheaper option to beef tenderloin is a top loin roast, which is a whole strip loin (strip steaks are cut from this portion) that has been trimmed, quartered, and tied into individual roasts.

Soon after, I purchased this cut to see how it stacked up to the tender but pricey tenderloin. I called ahead so it came trimmed and tied to the precise size I needed.

The cost was $12.99 per pound, whereas the tenderloin would have cost either $22.99 or $27.99 per pound, depending on the cut. (The first cut, the butt, is less; the center cut is more. If buying the whole beef tenderloin, which is often in the six to seven pound range, the price goes down to $15.99 per pound. Of course, these figures will fluctuate over time and from one store to the next.)

The end result was slightly less tender than the traditional tenderloin, but it received excellent reviews. If you prefer to splurge on the tenderloin, by all means do so. However, given the flavor and value, I would most certainly make this swap again.

Because not everyone cares for mushrooms or likes to cook with wine, I’ve included choices in that department, too. Both sauces are easy and designed simply to enhance the beef. For those trying to save time, the mushroom-less option will shave a few minutes off the prep time.

Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce or Simple Au Jus
Yield: 6-8 servings
When serving boneless beef, most butchers recommend starting with 1/2 pound per person, which I find often yields some welcome leftovers. The following recipe can be easily adjusted to the desired number of servings.
Ingredients
  • 1 (3-pound) beef tenderloin roast, trimmed and tied (see notes for less expensive substitution*)
  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For serving: Mushroom Sauce or Au Jus
Mushroom Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 8 ounces sliced white or cremini mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine (see notes for options**)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
Simple Au Jus
  • 1/2—3/4 cup beef stock or low-sodium canned broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Rub the filet all over with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and generously sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Place the beef in a lightly oiled roasting pan or large cast iron skillet, and roast on the center rack of the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast registers 120° F for rare. For medium-rare, cook to 125—130° F, for medium look for an internal temperature of 135°—140°. This should take between 25 and 45 minutes; internal temperature will continue to rise 5°—10° out of the oven. (Tip: To accurately judge doneness, rely on temperature, not time.) Remove the beef to a platter or carving board, loosely cover with foil, and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
  2. If using the Mushroom Sauce, prepare this while the beef roasts: Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they soften and turn golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Boil over medium-high heat until the volume of wine reduces by about half. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the thyme and Worcestershire sauce, and then add the rest of the butter, stirring constantly. Stir in any accumulated juices from the beef, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. For the Simple Au Jus: once the cooked roast has been removed to a platter, place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add 1/2—3/4 cup beef broth and bring the liquid to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the beefy particles.       Stir in any accumulated juices from the beef, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove the strings and cut the meat into 1/2-inch slices. Serve with the sauce or au jus as desired.
Notes, Tips & Options

*For a less expensive option, I recommend a top loin roast. This is a whole strip loin that has been trimmed, quartered, and tied into individual roasts. I call ahead to order the weight I want. Prepare the same way as directed for the tenderloin, placing the roast fat-side up in the pan.

**When using wine, choose a dry red wine (like a Pinot Noir, Merlot, or lighter style Cabernet) that you would enjoy drinking, not a cooking wine. If prefer to not use wine, substitute a good beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth.

One more thing… Leftovers make delicious roast beef sandwiches. For a tasty horseradish mayo, stir 1 tablespoon of horseradish into 1/4 cup mayonnaise.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Looking for the perfect meal ender?  May I suggest our Favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake?  It’s easy to make and a consistent crowd pleaser!

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Comments

  1. Beverley Press

    I love the story behind this recipe and plan to cook this for friends who are coming over for supper in a couple of weeks. Thank you xoxo

    Reply
  2. Phyllis Morin

    Could you possibly use a pork roast and if so what cut would be good or work. Thank you for any suggestions.‍

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Pork tenderloin would be the most tender option. You’d want to cook that to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. The tenderloin often weighs in around one pound, but you could cook more than one if needed. A second option would be the larger and slightly less tender boneless pork loin roast. Roast this cut with the fat side facing up and to the same internal temperature as the pork tenderloin. I hope that helps, Phyllis!

      Reply