Let me, at the outset, say that I meant no malice towards my family. My intention was to cook them dinner, not cause nearly convulsive physical duress. I guess I should first give you the recipe for my Italian Beef Tenderloin.
- One Beef Tenderloin
- 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 5 cloves of fresh garlic
- Lowry’s or Montreal Steak or your favorite steak seasoning rub
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Metal, oven-safe skillet (not Teflon)
- Tongs or large fork
- Cutting board
- Wooden spoon
- Carving knife
- Serving dish
Preheat oven to 425°
The tenderloin is one of the most expensive cuts of beef, so I get mine at one of the Big Box stores where they’re about half the price of the same cut in supermarkets.
To begin, trim the white or silvery skin. You need to trim this away as it is not tender, nor does it taste good. Then, let the meat sit at room temperature for at least an hour to even 75 minutes. This ensures even cooking. Also, many times the meat isn’t the same thickness for the entire length. If your cut of meat comes to a tapered end, tuck the thin end under until the folded end roughly equals the thickness of the rest of the cut and tie it with a piece of string. This will ensure more even cooking. Of course, if some of your family or guests prefer a more well-done cut of meat, then you can leave the thin end to cook more fully. However, beef tenderloin is at its best and most tender when it is cooked to rare or medium rare.
Once the meat has been allowed to reach room temperature, heat a skillet on high for a minute or two. Rub the meat with the olive oil to completely cover all sides. Then liberally sprinkle on your dry steak seasoning, covering the entire meat.
Place the meat into the hot skillet and allow meat to sear. Using tongs, turn the meat to sear all sides and, if you can, the ends of the beef. Make sure it sears to a rich, dark color.
Then, place the entire skillet into your 425° oven and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for a temp of 145° for medium rare.
While the tenderloin is baking, peal and roughly slice or chop the cloves of garlic and basil leaves. Set aside.
Once the meat reaches the proper internal temperature, get a couple of oven mitts and remove the skillet to your stovetop. Remove the tenderloin to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Turn the heat under the skillet to high. Immediately pour the white wine into the skillet and, with a wooden spoon, deglaze the brown residue from the bottom of the pan. Allow to simmer for a minute or so and then add the chopped mushrooms and juice of the lemon. Allow this to cook for a few minutes on high.
Remove from heat and let sit until the beef is ready to slice (that 10 to 15 minutes of resting time I mentioned).
Once the beef is ready, slice into steaks or chops and move to a serving dish that has, at least, 1” sides. Sprinkled garlic cloves and fresh basil over the slices and then pour the hot wine mixtures over the meat.
Boiled or baked fingerling or new potatoes are good with this gravy, as are mashed potatoes.
So! That’s what I was attempting to make when I nearly poisoned my parents. I had made the dish before. It wasn’t as if it was a new recipe for me.
Except, as I was searing the meat in my skillet, I began to cough. There’s always a little smoke when you’re searing the meat and I suggest, perhaps, opening a window. But my coughing grew more intense and my eyes began to water. In almost no time, both of my parents began to cough. The smoke from the searing had quickly permeated my tiny apartment.
I opened the kitchen window and crossed the living room to the back slider. My hand was to my face, my fingers trying to wipe the pain from my eyes.
“Come out here on the patio,” I gasped to them. They followed me and were soon relieved.
I returned to the kitchen to turn the meat and the smoke again attacked my lungs and my coughing grew to spasmodic thoracic convulsions. Tears streamed down my cheeks and it was a nearly monumental struggle to finish browning the meat.
“I don’t understand,” I did my best to say to them. “I’ve never had this problem.”
Soon the meat was baked and I was back in the kitchen. There was some residual smoke but I completed the meal as best I could.
With the first bite of my meal, a light went on in my head. I am quite generous with my use of the dry rub. The beef tenderloin, though a very tender cut, doesn’t have a lot of its own natural flavor. So I use a lot of rub and, along with the rest of the ingredients, it creates what I feel is a very fantastic repast.
Only this bite was incredibly spicy! Spicy to the point of being hot. The meal was not what I had intended. It was way too spicy.
I set down my fork and went to my cupboard. That’s what was different about this jar of Lowry’s!
When I bought it, something looked a little out-of-the-ordinary. I think the label was slightly different in color but I’d just grabbed it off the shelf. Now, through my bloodshot eyes, I read more closely the label. It was Lowry’s Seasoning Salt with Cayenne.
As I seared this cut of beef, I was releasing hot molecules of pepper spray into the atmosphere of my apartment; into my eyes and lungs as well as those of my parents.
The following day I was producing a telethon on the local ABC affiliate for the Arthritis Foundation. My voice sounded as if I had laryngitis. It was actually the quietest I’d ever heard the crew on headsets because my voice was so soft and hard to hear, no one had to be admonished to “keep the chatter down.” They were all intently listening for my instructions, given in an unavoidable whisper.
My pepper spray attack on myself (and my parents) caused me to speak in a hoarse whisper for about three more days.
This recipe is not included in my Bill’s Simple Cooking for Guys to Impress Women cookbook. It is not simple and I figure, if I can’t create it in my own kitchen without gassing myself and my family, it’s best left out of the book.
If you decide to try the recipe, I wish you good luck! When done without the chemical weapons attack, it’s a very special meal.