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Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Thyme and Red Wine Sauce

Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Thyme and Red Wine Sauce

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Beef, Family Favorites

This is my standard entrée for Christmas dinner. It is simple, and cooks and rests for over 2 hours, leaving plenty of time to open presents.

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  • 1 (about 6 pounds) whole beef tenderloin, trimmed of the chain and excess fat and sinew (see notes)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 25 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about ⅔ cup)
  • 2 cups full-bodied dry red wine like a Merlot
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups low-salt canned beef broth



Heat the oven to 250°F. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Fold the thin tail piece under itself to create a roast of even thickness. Using twine, tie the beef at regular intervals to help it hold its shape during cooking. Tuck the 25 sprigs thyme beneath the twine all the way around the beef, spacing the sprigs about 2 inches apart. Put the beef in a roasting pan and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 130°F for medium rare, 1¾ to 2 hours. Transfer to a carving board, tent with foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. Just before serving, carve into ½-inch slices.


Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally, until they're soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the wine and vinegar, and boil until reduced to a syrupy consistency (about ¼ cup), about 10 minutes. Add the 5 sprigs thyme and the beef broth and reduce to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain the sauce, let cool, cover, and refrigerate.

Just before serving, reheat the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. When it's hot, whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter.


You can always buy a tenderloin already trimmed and, often, tied by the butcher.

You can make the red wine sauce the day before. Refrigerate, and reheat before serving.

What to Drink

The same wine you use to make the sauce would be perfect.

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recipe type

Main Courses


Fine Cooking






Kosher v. table salt
We always use kosher salt in our cooking because its crystals dissolve better in water than ordinary table salt. However, kosher and table salt are not equivalent when you are measuring amounts for a recipe. To further confuse matters, different types of kosher salt measure differently. If a recipe calls for table salt (or just salt), and the amounts are relatively small (e.g., one teaspoon), we simply use the amount called for in the recipe. You can always add a bit more salt to taste. If however, the recipe calls for larger amounts of salt, as would be the case, for example, in a brine, then you should convert the amount called for. Most sources cite 2 types of kosher salt as being widely available: Morton (which is what we use) and Diamond Crystal (which none of us have ever been able to find.) In any case, to convert the amount of table salt to Morton Kosher Salt, multiply the table salt by 1.5; to convert to Diamond Crystal, multiply by 2.

Just another example of why algebra really is im

Salted or Unsalted?Salted or Unsalted?
We always cook with unsalted butter. Salted butter is usually less fresh than unsalted, and the salt can be used to mask inferior flavors. Also, manufacturers add different amounts of salt to their butter, so it is difficult to control the amount of salt in your recipe. In a pinch, you can use salted butter in a savory recipe, but we would not recommend using it for baking.