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A tenderloin of beef has many virtues.  Cost is not one of them.  But if you have decided to buy one, there is no reason to dwell on the negative you cannot change.  There are compensations…Every bit of a tenderloin is edible.  It is not labor intensive and a good hamburger is easier to ruin than a beef filet.  People will like it.

This beef filet marinates for one or a couple of days.  It is roasted and served on a bed of arugula with a sauce made from the marinade.  Making this roast will not cause anxiety, either in the preparation or serving.  Alone in the kitchen, arranging a main course for 10 on plates, while the other 9 of you are waiting at the table—is daunting.  But you will not feel disconcerted, because the steps are few and the result is good to look at and good to eat.

A qualifying note:  A reader recently made the marinade for the tenderloin according to the recipe, using equal parts of port wine and soy sauce.  She found the result much too salty.  Although I have served the version below a number of times with success, a salt-sensitive palate might find it too strong. One might  try using only 1/4 cup of soy sauce in the marinade and replacing the remaining soy sauce with a non-salty beef or vegetable stock..

Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Port Wine Sauce (for 10 people)


The Meat:

  • A filet of beef tenderloin (a 3 and1/2 pound tenderloin will be a little more than enough for 10 people; ask the butcher to tie it or wrap some kitchen string tightly around it yourself–from one end to the other.

The Marinade:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of Port wine
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of soy sauce
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of thyme, fresh or dried
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of hot sauce, such as “Louisiana Hot Sauce”

Other things you will need:

  • Olive oil and butter for browning the meat
  • Bacon, about 10 slices to cover the filet during roasting
  • about 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a small amount of cold water
  • Suggestions for garnishing:  about 4 cups of arugula, a couple of branches of fresh rosemary, cut into 10 lengths, chopped parsley


  • A stove-top grill or wide frying pan for browning the roast
  • A roasting pan and rack

1.  Mix together the ingredients for the marinade.  Pour it into a very large resealable plastic bag or a deep casserole and add the beef filet:

2.  Cover tightly, or seal in the bag, and marinate, refrigerated, for up to two days:

 3.  Reserve the marinade.  Brown the roast in some olive oil and butter on a stove-top grill or in a wide frying pan.  Set the grill or pan aside without washing it to use later to wilt the arugula:

4.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Lay slices of bacon lengthwise over the top, sides and bottom of the filet, securing them at the ends with toothpicks.  Not every surface has to be covered completely.  The bacon helps prevent the filet from drying out:

5.  For a medium-well filet, like the one in the photograph, roast for 35 minutes at 375 F.  The roast can sit out covered loosely with foil while you finish the sauce and the arugula.

6.  To make the sauce, mix about 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch in a little cold water.  Bring the reserved marinade to a boil and stir in about half the cornstarch mixture. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally until it begins to thicken. If the sauce  thickens enough to coat a spoon and looks like a sauce, there is no need to add the rest of the cornstarch. If the sauce seems too thin, add the rest of it.  Reheat the grill or frying pan used to brown the filet.  Wilt the arugula, moving it about on the grill or in the pan.  In a few seconds, it will be limp, but still bright green.  Remove it to a plate and cover it with a cloth.

7.  Place 10 dinner plates on a counter or kitchen table, alongside the sauce and the arugula.

8. Remove the bacon and cut the string off the roast. Cut the filet in thick slices, one for each person:  9.  On each plate, pour some sauce in the center, place some arugula on top of the sauce and a slice of filet on top of the arugula.  Pour a little more sauce over each piece of filet and garnish with a piece of fresh rosemary, if you use it.  A medium-well tenderloin will be rosy inside:

10. An idea for serving:  Place whatever goes with the filet on either side of the meat and sprinkle some chopped parsley randomly about each plate.  This recipe for Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Port Wine Sauce is part of the Dinner Menu:  A Welcome Dinner for an Out-of-Town Visitor Who Has Traveled Far.  It also includes Baby Potatoes in a Salt Crust and Asparagus with Proscuitto, neither of which requires a lot of time or attention:

I would like to credit the author of this dish, but my copy of the recipe is on an anonymous sheet of white paper. 

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011