If you’re a meat lover, you’ve probably heard of the tenderloin cut of beef. But have you ever heard of the beef butt tenderloin?
This lesser-known cut is actually the thickest end of the tenderloin and is prized for its tenderness and rich flavor. But what exactly is it, and how can you cook it to perfection?
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the beef butt tenderloin, from its anatomy to its history and cooking tips. So grab your apron and let’s get started!
What Is A Beef Butt Tenderloin?
The beef butt tenderloin is a cut of beef that comes from the hind section of the animal. It is taken from the thickest end of the tenderloin, which is a long fillet cut from a loin of beef. This cut is so-named because the meat is very tender, making it suitable as cuts of beef roast or steak.
The tenderloin is made up of three long muscles – psoas major, psoas minor, and iliacus – that are rarely utilized by the cow. This gives it a unique tenderness that makes it one of the most coveted cuts of beef.
The beef butt tenderloin specifically isolates the posterior end of the tenderloin at the sirloin end. The cut cannot extend more than half an inch beyond the end of the iliacus muscle. This cut is normally a result of deciding to cut porterhouse steaks from the loin primal. The tenderloin butt is still a tenderloin and filets can be portioned from it.
Anatomy Of The Beef Butt Tenderloin
The beef butt tenderloin is a long, thin, and lean muscle that is located within the loin of the cow. It is oblong in shape and spans two primal cuts: the short loin and the sirloin. The tenderloin sits beneath the ribs, next to the backbone, and has two ends: the butt and the “tail”. The butt end is the thickest end of the tenderloin and it also has a “wing” piece attached to it. The center cut is the middle part of the tenderloin, which is the most uniform in size and where filet mignon, tenderloin steaks, and chateaubriand come from. The tip end is the small, thin end of the tenderloin that is also the piece that can be used for tournedos steaks.
The beef butt tenderloin specifically isolates the posterior end of the tenderloin at the sirloin end. It cannot extend more than half an inch beyond the end of the iliacus muscle. This cut is normally a result of deciding to cut porterhouse steaks from the loin primal. The tenderloin butt is still a tenderloin and filets can be portioned from it.
The psoas major muscle is located ventral to the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae, near the kidneys. It runs along with two other muscles – psoas minor and iliacus – to form the entire tenderloin. Because these muscles do very little work, they are considered to be one of the most tender parts of beef.
If you have to clean a beef butt tenderloin yourself, all you need is a sharp boning knife and a large cutting board. The untrimmed tenderloin usually has fat and silver skin from the sides of the cow that must be removed before it is cooked. A whole beef butt tenderloin will also still have the chain attached to it that will need to be removed. The chain looks like a thin, fatty piece of meat running down the length of the entire tenderloin.
History And Origins Of The Beef Butt Tenderloin
The history and origins of the beef butt tenderloin are not entirely clear, but there are a few theories about how it got its name. One theory is that it comes from the Porter House, a popular 19th-century hotel in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Another theory is that it was named after a Cambridge, Massachusetts hotel and restaurant proprietor named Zachariah B. Porter.
However, the most likely origin of the name “porterhouse” is from Manhattan’s Pearl Street around 1814, when porter house proprietor Martin Morrison started serving particularly large T-bones. The Oxford English Dictionary lists this etymology as the likely origin of the steak’s name while noting that there’s no contemporary evidence to support or contradict the tale.
Regardless of its name, the beef butt tenderloin has been a prized cut of meat for centuries. It was often served to royalty and nobility in ancient times, and today it remains a popular choice for special occasions and fine dining restaurants.
Over time, chefs and butchers have developed various methods for preparing and cooking the beef butt tenderloin to bring out its unique flavor and tenderness. Whether it’s seared on a skillet or roasted in an oven, this cut of meat is sure to impress even the most discerning palates.
Flavor Profile And Cooking Techniques
The beef butt tenderloin is a lean cut of beef that is known for its tenderness rather than its flavor. This means that it needs to be cooked carefully to ensure that it remains juicy and flavorful. To achieve this, it’s important to balance time, temperature, and moisture when cooking the meat.
One popular way to cook beef butt tenderloin is by roasting it in the oven. This method involves placing the seasoned tenderloin into a roasting pan and setting it in a hot oven without adding water or a cover to the pan. Since this cut of beef can withstand fast cooking under dry heat at a high temperature, it’s important to cook it quickly to achieve a smoky flavor and tender texture. This is produced by the Maillard reaction, a process during which proteins and sugars break down.
To ensure even cooking, it’s recommended to cut the whole beef tenderloin in half to create two small roasts and then fold the tail over and tie it to the main body of the roast so that it’s an even thickness. This not only allows for more even cooking but also enables different cooking durations for each roast. For example, the butt roast is larger and will likely require more cooking time than the tail roast.
Since beef butt tenderloin is a lean cut with comparatively little intramuscular fat, known as marbling, it can dry out if overcooked. Therefore, it’s important to cook it to an internal temperature of 145°F with a three-minute rest period. This ensures that the meat remains juicy and flavorful.
While beef butt tenderloin may not be known as a particularly flavorful cut of beef, there are ways to enhance its taste. One popular method is by wrapping a strip of bacon around a tenderloin steak before cooking. The bacon adds flavor and moisture to the steak, making it more enjoyable.
How To Prepare And Cook A Beef Butt Tenderloin
Preparing and cooking a beef butt tenderloin requires attention to detail to ensure that you end up with a delicious and perfectly cooked piece of meat. Here’s how to do it:
1. Preheat your oven to 425°F and prepare a rimmed, heavy baking sheet by greasing it with some oil.
2. Rub the beef butt tenderloin with a little bit of olive oil all over.
3. Crack whole peppercorns coarsely and spread all the seasoning on the parchment paper. Mix it together and place the tenderloin on top of the seasoning. Roll the tenderloin around to coat it evenly in seasoning and press on the seasoning to stick it on better.
4. Once the beef tenderloin is tied and coated with seasoning, place it onto the baking sheet.
5. Insert a leave-in thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to track meat temperature more accurately.
6. Roast beef butt tenderloin until it reaches 130°-135° for medium-rare or 140°-145° for medium. Take the tenderloin out of the oven and transfer onto the cutting board.
7. Carefully cut and take off the twine. Loosely tent the beef with a sheet of aluminum foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting it against the grain.
The exact cooking time of the beef butt tenderloin depends on its size and how you like your beef cooked. In general, searing will take about 9-12 minutes (about 3-4 minutes per side), depending on the actual heat of your skillet determined by the skillet material and how long the beef has been dry brined. After searing, the beef tenderloin will roast for approximately 25 to 35 minutes in the oven for a total of about 20 to 35 minutes.
Remember that once you remove the beef butt tenderloin from the oven, it will continue to cook for several minutes. So, take it out just before it reaches your desired temperature, keeping in mind that you can always cook a too-rare piece of meat a little more; but once it’s too done, there’s nothing you can do.
To add flavor to your beef butt tenderloin, you can also marinate it in a mixture of oil, cumin, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and pepper for at least four hours or overnight before grilling it until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F for medium-rare doneness. Slice on the bias, 1/2-inch thick, and arrange on a serving platter for a delicious meal.
Serving Suggestions And Pairings For Beef Butt Tenderloin
Beef butt tenderloin is a versatile cut of meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways. When it comes to serving suggestions and pairings, the options are endless. One classic way to serve beef tenderloin is with a side of potatoes, either mashed, roasted or baked. Another popular option is to serve it with green beans, carrots, or other steamed vegetables.
If you’re looking for a fancier presentation, consider pairing your beef butt tenderloin with an onion tart or other savory pastry. This will add a touch of elegance to your meal and impress your guests.
When it comes to wine pairings, there are a few things to consider. The preparation method of the beef will affect the choice of wine. For example, a roasted beef tenderloin would pair well with a full-bodied red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. If grilling the beef, a Merlot or Shiraz would be a good choice. A pan-fried beef tenderloin would pair well with a Pinot Noir or Chianti.
It’s also important to consider the overall flavors of the dish when choosing a wine pairing. Beef butt tenderloin is a rich and flavorful meat, so it’s important to choose a wine that is of similar weight and intensity. If you’re unsure about which wine to choose, consult with a sommelier or wine expert.
In terms of side dishes, it’s important to choose options that complement the flavors of the beef butt tenderloin without overpowering them. Steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and roasted root vegetables are all great options that will add flavor and nutrition to your meal.