Are you planning a special occasion or holiday dinner and wondering how far in advance you can buy beef tenderloin?
Look no further! We’ve gathered some helpful tips and information to ensure your beef tenderloin stays fresh and delicious until it’s time to serve.
From storage recommendations to portion sizes, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more about buying and preparing this crowd-pleasing cut of beef.
How Far In Advance Can I Buy Beef Tenderloin?
When it comes to buying beef tenderloin, it’s important to plan ahead. But how far in advance can you purchase this special cut of beef?
The good news is that you can buy your beef tenderloin at least three days in advance and store it properly in the fridge. Simply place it in a ziplock bag or an airtight container and keep it refrigerated until its next use. If stored correctly, your beef tenderloin should stay fresh for three to five days.
It’s important to note that the best way to buy beef tenderloin is from a butcher shop or specialty grocery store. These places will have higher-quality meats that are better stored than those available at regular supermarkets. While it may be tempting to purchase from a regular supermarket for convenience, the quality of the meat may not be as good.
The Basics Of Beef Tenderloin
Beef tenderloin is a premium cut of beef that is known for its tenderness and lean meat. It’s the most tender cut of beef and is located within the loin. This is where we get filet mignon, which is made from the very tip of the pointy end of the tenderloin. The tenderloin is a larger cut of beef consisting of the entire tenderloin muscle, which is a long muscle ranging from eighteen to twenty-four inches, stretching from the loin primal to the sirloin primal. This muscle is near the cow’s backbone, so it hardly gets any exercise.
The beef tenderloin is an oblong muscle called the psoas major, which extends along the rear portion of the spine, directly behind the kidney, from about the hip bone to the thirteenth rib. It doesn’t get much exercise, which is why the meat is so tender. It’s encased in a thick layer of crumbly fat known as kidney fat or suet, which can be used in much the same way as lard. A smaller, very skinny muscle called the psoas minor, commonly referred to as the chain, runs the length of the tenderloin and is often (but not always) removed before the tenderloin makes it to the meat case. At the other end there’s another muscle, the iliacus, sometimes called the side muscle or wing muscle.
When buying beef tenderloin, it’s important to know that a full tenderloin is a big chunk of meat, about four to five pounds. Because a whole tenderloin has an uneven shape, with a thin, tapered tail and a fat bulb on the other end, you’ll need to fold that thinner end back and tie it into place to get it to cook evenly. Even though beef tenderloin is a very lean muscle, it does still require some cleaning. There is some excess fat that is better to take off but try not to cut off every tiny piece of fat, but rather excessive one on the side. It’s also important to remove the silver skin.
Choosing The Right Cut
When choosing the right cut of beef tenderloin, it’s important to consider your budget and the occasion you’re buying it for. If you’re looking to save money, buying a whole or partial beef tenderloin and slicing it yourself can be a cost-effective option. However, this may require some trimming and preparation.
If you’re looking for a more premium cut of beef, consider purchasing filet mignon, chateaubriand, or tournedos of beef. These cuts are typically more expensive but have a higher quality and are already prepared for cooking.
When shopping for beef tenderloin, it’s important to pay attention to the labeling and grading of the meat. Look for beef that has a USDA stamp declaring the grade of prime, choice, or select. If the beef is unstamped, it may be a “Standard” or “Commercial” grade of beef and may not have the same quality as graded meat.
Storage And Shelf Life
Proper storage is key to ensuring the freshness and quality of your beef tenderloin. When storing in the fridge, make sure to keep it in a ziplock bag or an airtight container. This will prevent any air from getting in and causing the meat to spoil faster.
If you plan on buying your beef tenderloin well in advance, it’s important to consider freezing it. Beef that is vacuum-packaged and frozen at a temperature below 0°F has an indefinite shelf-life. However, from an optimal quality standpoint, frozen whole-muscle beef has a recommended shelf-life of 12 months.
When it comes to thawing frozen beef tenderloin, it’s important to do so slowly and safely. The best way to thaw is by placing it in the fridge for 24-48 hours before cooking. Avoid thawing at room temperature or in hot water as this can lead to uneven thawing and potential bacterial growth.
Portion Sizes And Serving Suggestions
When it comes to serving beef tenderloin, it’s important to consider portion sizes. A good rule of thumb is to estimate 8 ounces (or 1/2 pound) of meat per person. However, since beef tenderloin is a relatively lean and expensive cut of beef, you can easily cut that recommendation down to 6 ounces per person if you’re serving hearty sides.
For feeding four to six guests, a roast between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds should be sufficient. This will give each guest three to four (1/2-inch) slices on the plate, as well as a small portion of seconds or leftovers.
If you’re looking to calculate the amount of raw beef tenderloin needed, the formula is simple: four ounces raw beef tenderloin per person. For example, if you’re feeding four people, you will need 1 pound (16 ounces) of raw, trimmed beef tenderloin, which will yield 3 ounces cooked beef per person. A five-pound trimmed tenderloin will feed 20 people, and so on.
It’s also important to consider the difference in weight from raw to cooked, which is called the yield. This calculation takes into account the percentage of loss from shrinkage, trimmings, and bones. As a general rule, you will need to serve 1.5 lbs or 24 ozs of cooked beef tenderloin for a family of four.
When it comes to serving suggestions for beef tenderloin, it’s a versatile dish that can be served as an entree or a heavy appetizer with soft rolls. Horseradish sauce or grainy mustard make great condiments. Additionally, if you’re planning a special occasion and want to prepare your beef tenderloin ahead of time, you can roast it a few hours ahead of time and store it in a cooler until ready to serve. It will hold its temperature and make for an easy and stress-free meal.
Preparing And Cooking Tips
Now that you’ve purchased your beef tenderloin, it’s time to prepare and cook it to perfection. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your purchase:
1. Proper Storage: As mentioned above, it’s important to store your beef tenderloin in the fridge if you plan on using it within five days. If you need to store it for longer, vacuum-sealing and freezing it is a good option. Just make sure to thaw it properly before cooking.
2. Trimming and Tying: Before cooking, make sure to ask your butcher to trim and tie the tenderloin for you. This will remove any excess fat and ensure even thickness for even cooking.
3. Time and Temperature: Cooking the perfect beef tenderloin is all about time and temperature. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat and take it out of the oven just before it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that the meat will continue to cook for several minutes after removing it from the oven.
4. Resting: After cooking, let your beef tenderloin rest for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing into it. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish.
5. Serving Suggestions: Beef tenderloin is a versatile dish that can be served as an entree or as a heavy appetizer with soft rolls. Horseradish sauce or grainy mustard make great condiments.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your beef tenderloin is cooked to perfection every time, making it a special treat for any occasion.
Frequently Asked Questions About Buying Beef Tenderloin
Here are some frequently asked questions about buying beef tenderloin:
1. Is it better to buy beef tenderloin in advance or on the day of cooking?
It’s recommended to purchase beef tenderloin at least three days in advance and store it properly in the fridge. This allows the meat to age and become more tender. However, if you’re unable to purchase in advance, buying on the day of cooking is still an option.
2. Where is the best place to buy beef tenderloin?
The best place to buy beef tenderloin is from a butcher shop or specialty grocery store. These places will have higher-quality meats that are better stored than those available at regular supermarkets.
3. How do I know if the beef tenderloin is fresh?
Fresh beef tenderloin should have a bright red color and no odor. If it has a brownish color or a strong odor, it may not be fresh.
4. Can I freeze beef tenderloin?
Yes, you can freeze beef tenderloin for up to six months. It’s recommended to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in a freezer-safe bag or container.
5. What’s the difference between beef tenderloin and filet mignon?
Beef tenderloin is the entire cut of meat, while filet mignon is a specific cut from the very end and most tender area of the tenderloin.
6. Why should I trim my own beef tenderloin?
Trimming your own beef tenderloin allows you to have control over the cut of meat and can be more cost-effective than purchasing pre-cut steaks or roasts. Plus, you can use the scrap meat for other meals.
By following these tips and answering these frequently asked questions, you’ll be able to confidently purchase and store beef tenderloin for your next special occasion or meal.