It goes without saying that a good steak is one of the finest dining pleasures in the world. And by “steak” I mean a prime piece of beef: not pork, not chicken, not fish, and definitely not that horrendous slab of plant-based detritus the vegan terrorists are trying to talk us into eating. No, a proper, bloody steak.
When cooking at home, the cut of choice is a proper rib-eye: gorgeously marbled, preferably bone-in, meltingly tender, and cooks to a wonted medium in minutes on a very hot grill pan. When dining out, however, a filet mignon is just the thing to suit beefy cravings when one is feeling indulgent. And, once in a blue moon when nice dinner invites are accepted, there’s proper tenderloin.
A tenderloin is found on the lower back of the animal, usually the portion closest to the kidneys. In traditional butchering, the cut is further divided into three: the butt end which is shaved for carpaccio, the tail end which is minced fine for steak tartare and beef Stroganoff, and the eye from which the actual steaks are cut.
A tenderloin steak is at its best if cooked rare to medium rare: that way, you get the full impact of the ferrous tang of the meat tempered by the rich, buttery fat. Any more and you’ve needlessly toughened up the meat. Also: real gourmets know that a lean tenderloin is a curse against both God and humanity – what the hell is wrong with all those lean meat junkies?! You need that fat for flavour, for the love of everything holy!
Truth be told, a good tenderloin needs but a good sprinkling of salt, a faint dusting of pepper, and a small knob of butter melting upon its still-steaming, nicely charred surface. Mashed potatoes are a must, buttered veg is de rigueur. Truffle butter – or any other flavoured butter – is a matter of personal taste. But I say: bring it on, et laissez les bon temps rouler.
Oh, and a proper red is just the thing to wash it down.