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Herb-Roasted Chateaubriand (Beef Tenderloin) with Brandied Shallot Sauce

Serves 8

This brings back so many memories. My father loved to frequent fine restaurants. As I recall we went about once a month. Many of them were in the Pennsylvania countryside, away from the big cities, sometimes as far as an hour away from our home. They were always establishments with a warm atmosphere, high-quality food and exceptional service. I remember having a favorite entree or appetizer at each one. At Ballietsville Inn, it was the steak tartare appetizer. At The 1760 House it was the crab-stuffed lobster tails. I loved the escargot at a little place in Bethlehem. And my favorite at a restaurant in Easton was the beef Wellington. At the Candlewyck, one of the restaurants reserved for very special occasions and probably the farthest from home, my mother or brother and I usually shared the chateaubriand. I do not recall anything about how it was prepared, just that it was absolutely delicious. This recipe is relatively quick, very easy, and makes an elegant main dish for entertaining or any special occasion.

   Brandied Shallot Sauce

To prepare the roast, remove all of the silver skin with a small sharp knife. If necessary, tie the roast with butcher's twine to make it an even size. (Your butcher can do all of that for you.) The meat should be at room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Rub the mustard all over the meat. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Rub or pat the mixture all over the meat. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, then the meat. Sear until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Place in the oven and roast until desired doneness, about 35 minutes for medium-rare, or an internal temperature of 125°. Remove roast from pan and let set about 10 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Pour off the fat from the skillet. Place over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the brandy, bring to a boil, stirring to loosen all the browned bits in the bottom of the pan, and reduce slightly. Add the water with the beef base and the thyme. Boil until reduced by half. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the extra 1 tablespoon of butter and cook, whisking constantly, just until the butter is incorporated. Stir in the fresh parsley. Taste for seasoning. Remove the twine from the roast and slice as desired, but not too thick. Place on individual serving plates and top with some of the sauce. Serve immediately.

Notes: Chateaubriand is a very expensive cut of beef. However, there is no waste. It is cut from the wide end of the tenderloin, but any part can be used. When I am feeling extravagant, and the whole tenderloins are on sale, I bring one home and cut into filet mignons and roasts. The tenderloin has very little fat and, therefore, should never be overcooked. If you like meat well-done, another cut would be preferable. One cup low-sodium beef stock or broth can be used in place of the beef base and water. Roasting times will vary depending on the diameter of the meat. To be certain of the doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer.