The story goes that back in the days of Napoleon, Chef Montmireil created a special dish for author and statesman, Francois Chateaubriand. He took a cut of beef from the tenderloin, just down from the filet mignon, coated it in butter, seasoned it with black pepper and grilled it. This cut, now synonymous with the recipe, is a thick steak, large enough to serve at least two people.
To finish off this dish, the meat is sliced into thin strips, topped with a butter and parsley mixture and served with béarnaise sauce. The traditional side dish is chateau potatoes. These small potatoes are roasted in a heavy pan, covered in butter. Not a recipe for the dieter, but well worth the extra calories.
Of course the beef tenderloin steak is one of the more expensive cuts, but if you want to make a meal that is sure to impress, this is a good one to choose.
Remember that Chateaubriand is a recipe and not a cut of meat. This recipe has been adapted by a great number of cooks to use almost anything from fish to artichokes. A quick search of the Internet will find you dozens of variations.
From the time of Napoleon comes this recipe for a great meal. Chateaubriand is not a cut of beef, like many think, but a recipe for a grilled beef tenderloin.
2 pounds beef tenderloin
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup watercress
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
Trim beef tenderloin of unnecessary fat. The tenderloin should be about 1 inch thick, so if it's too thick, pound to flatten. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and coat over the surface of the meat. Season with black pepper.
Preheat grill. Meanwhile melt remaining 1/2 cup of butter in a sauce pan. Add parsley, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a small container and refrigerate.
Place the tenderloin on hot grill and sear on each side for about 4 minutes. Reduce heat and continue grilling until it reaches the desired doneness. Remove from grill and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Serve garnished with watercresses and butter mixture (called Maitre d'hotel butter).
Chateaubriand is traditionally served with Béarnaise Sauce
This is a classic sauce that goes well over most grilled dishes. This is one of the most versatile sauces in the world.
1 cup butter, melted and hot
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry tarragon
Put onions, vinegar, tarragon and pepper in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to about 1-2 teaspoons of liquid. Stir constantly. Remove from stove and let cool. Put egg yolks and cooled mixture in a blender.
Process for about 1 minute or until completely blended. Melt butter. Turn blender to high and slowly add the butter. Start out very slow. Serve immediately. This can be a tricky sauce so go slow and watch it very carefully. The sauce will get thick as you add the butter. Do not let it cool after it is mixed because it will separate.