Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin – The Prequel (the cutting and bacon-wrapping portion)
Sometimes we avoid cooking certain foods because we think they need to be complicated or the main ingredient is too expensive. It would be a shame to try a new recipe with a high priced piece of meat only to mess it up and end up eating cold cereal instead. Well, here’s a simple way to take an intimidating cut (beef tenderloin) and turn it into the culinary highlight of the week for your family. Bacon-wrapped fillets.
Sounds good right? Of course it does. You can wrap bacon around almost anything and it sounds good. But now we enter double-good territory. The bacon is being wrapped around a fillet, as in filet mignon. This is win-win.
Depending on how the economic downturn hit you, this may need to be a crime of opportunity. If you can afford regular beef tenderloin prices then feel free to prepare this whenever you want, but around here we only strike when the iron is hot. This happens to be about three times a year. During these magical times, our local grocer advertises trimmed beef tenderloin for as low as $5.88/pound**. This is great for two reasons, (1) at this price, tenderloin costs the same a sirloin, and (2) my butcher has already trimmed it for me, that means I’m not paying for weight that I would have to cut off and throw away.
**They also sell whole, untrimmed tenderloins for $4.88/pound on sale. Both are a good deal, but you’ll have to trim these.
Are you ready to cook yet? Good, because I am too. And lucky for us, this one really is simple. In fact, most of what you need to know is in the title – bacon wrapped tenderloin. That’s right, wrap the bacon around the tenderloin. Done. Okay, so it’s not quite that easy, but I’ll walk you through it.
Start with a pound of your favorite bacon, you don’t need anything expensive, almost any bacon will do. Now I usually get about a three-pound tenderloin, and I find that I can get about seven or eight steaks out of it.
Lay out your tenderloin on a cutting board. Slice it into medallions about two inches thick, carefully wrap each steak with a strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick. If you are making these ahead of time, skip the toothpick and just stack them up in groups of four and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then put them in a freezer bag and freeze them. If you are cooking them now, then it’s time to light the grill.
Stand them all up on their ends and prepare a seasoning mix with about a tablespoon of kosher salt and an equal part of fresh black pepper. To this add a teaspoon of Montreal Steak seasoning. I like adding this because it ups the flavor a bit but doesn’t over power the star attraction. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no. You cannot use Lemon Pepper, the answer is always no. Lemon Pepper is not allowed on my patio for the same reason Kool-Aid is banned. Generously season both sides of your medallions with the mix.
At this point the grill should be hot. Turn the grill down to medium and lovingly place your steaks on the grill. Give them all room, there is no need to crowd. As they cook, the bacon fat will melt and drip causing little flare ups. This is fine, this is good actually, but if you have too many steaks in one area we could get a situation that leads to char. We do not want char; that is not good. Now close the lid and walk away. Find your beer (today I have Surly Bender with Coffee) and relax.
Cooking times will vary according to grill temp, climatic variables and medallion thickness, but follow these general guidelines:
After about three or four minutes, gently flip them and return to your beer. Repeat twice more. By this point they should be firming up and this is where personal preference and judgment come into play. The O6 likes their steaks medium, so this is what I shoot for. You should be able to press (gently! no squishing) on the steak with your tongs and feel some give, but you should also experience some spring back. Too much give, and you are in rare territory, too much spring and you are approaching well done.
Now, here is the good news, if you accidentally overcook these guys, it’s okay. The bacon will keep them from drying out; it may be a little more done than you wanted, but it is definitely not ruined. If you found yourself on the bloody end of the spectrum, fear not, just throw it back on the grill.
I like to take them off just before they hit medium. I wrap them in foil and let them rest for about five minutes. This brings the flavors together and allows them to finish cooking through the miracle of carryover heat (which is also the secret to Shaina’s perfect scrambled eggs).
Now all that’s left to do is set the table, serve up your sides and plate the steaks. Wasn’t that easy? Five ingredients are all you need to produce a meal that your family will be talking about for weeks.