beef tenderloin with bordelaise sauce.

Happy holidays everyone!

Beef Tenderloin with Bordelaise Sauce

Today I’m sharing a highly advanced yet very special family recipe that has been guarded in the locker of my mom’s brain for way too many years. It’s time to get the word out.


One of my favorite comments about this dish over the years was “WHY is this bordelaise sauce not commercially available?!”


It is THAT good.


It is truly a stunner, fit for special occasions and elegant holiday get togethers.


You can trust me that I have painstakingly pored over every detail of the instructions in this recipe over several phone conversations with my mom to make it possible for humble laymen like me to recreate in their own kitchens.


We like to round out the meal with boiled green beans dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, roasted potatoes (or my favorite, sweet potatoes), and whole wheat potato dinner rolls or challah bread.


So fear not, get started with the sauce ahead of time, and happy cooking!


Bordelaise Sauce

peaches & cake

Bordelaise Sauce
Makes enough sauce for 1 beef tenderloin. Can easily be doubled.
*Tip: Make ahead of time!

Printer-friendly version

  • 3 cups Cabernet Sauvignon (Not too cheap, not too expensive. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is good. About $8 a bottle is sufficient. Do not use Sutter Home or boxed wine.)
  • 4 shallots, peeled and chopped once  and then pulsated in a food processor, about ¾ cup
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups Brown Sauce, recipe below
  • 3 tablespoons cognac (Courvoisier)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley
  • Juices from the beef tenderloin (optional)

Equipment: Food processor, big wide stockpot, cheesecloth, strainer, and a big bowl

Combine wine, shallots, and thyme in a wide stockpot over high heat. Leave the pot uncovered. Reduce over high heat by two-thirds (down to one-third). This will take about 45 minutes to an hour. You know you’re getting close to a third when you start noticing the shallots.

Place a cheesecloth over a strainer and a bowl. Strain the mixture into the bowl, pressing down on the shallots to get the juice out. Keep the shallots and use them for the marinade for the meat.

Then pour into a big measuring cup to make sure you indeed have 1 cup of wine, which is one-third of the original liquid. If you don’t, pour it all back in the pot and reduce it some more.

Slowly pour into the brown sauce. Add cognac, lemon juice, and parsley. Slowly stir and let everything come together. Don’t let it separate or boil – this is bad. This is even better if you do it in a double boiler.

Cover and refrigerate or freeze and thaw until ready to serve. Reheat in the microwave. If the sauce has separated, run it through a food processor. If desired, you can add the juices from the beef tenderloin to the sauce to add more flavor.

Transfer to a gravyboat and serve over beef tenderloin, roasted potatoes, and/or bread.

Brown Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups Swanson’s low-sodium beef broth
  • Pinch of dried thyme, crunched up in fingers
  • freshly ground black pepper

Equipment needed: High quality stock pot or large saucepan with a thick core, whisk, wooden spoon
Make the roux: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan/pot over low heat and let it melt slowly. You do not want the butter to burn. Then add the flour and gently stir with a whisk over medium heat. Let the butter evenly coat everything and for the flour to cook a little bit (let it bubble a little bit so it doesn’t have that raw flour taste). You don’t want any lumps. Reduce the heat and simmer and stir for a few minutes. You want it to get nice and thick – this will take a while.

Add the beef stock a cup at a time and whisk constantly over medium heat until the sauce thickens.  Never let it boil, which will separate the sauce. Add a little bit of fresh ground pepper, a pinch of thyme crushed up in your fingers; reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring, occasionally.

Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. (The butter and canned beef broth often contain enough salt so that no more is needed.)


Beef Tenderloin

  • 1 beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat (You can find good ones at Costco. Plan on about 1/3 pound per person or more if you want leftovers.)
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is good. If you don’t have Cab, use Merlot.)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh curly parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • Leftover shallots from the strained wine reduction from the bordelaise sauce (optional)
  • Fresh ground pepper

First, trim your tenderloin of fat with a sharp knife or kitchen shears if your butcher hasn’t done so already.

Put all ingredients in an extra-large Ziploc bag. Let marinate it for about 4 hours, keeping it in the refrigerator for the first three hours and then letting it sit out on the counter for the final hour so that it comes to room temperature. If the tenderloin is uneven in size, truss it with kitchen twine so that it cooks evenly.

To cook on the grill: Preheat the grill on high. Grease the grates with Crisco or olive oil with a paper towel on tongs. Once it’s hot, turn the grill on low. Then put it the tenderloin on the grill.  Turn it every five minutes. You want the whole thing to have a nice brown crust to it. Cook until the temperature on an instant-read thermometer reads 135 degrees F.

To cook in the oven: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. The following step is optional: Heat olive oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium high heat and sear tenderloin for about 3 minutes per side. Place tenderloin on a rack in a roasting pan. Cook until the temperature on an instant-read thermometer reads 135 degrees F, about 35-40 minutes (this will greatly vary depending how big your tenderloin is), turning once halfway through cooking. Keep an eye on it to make sure you don’t overcook it.

Once the beef has reached 135 degrees F, remove from the heat, wrap it tightly in foil and place in a thermos or cooler (if available).  The temperature should raise a few degrees, up to about 140 degrees F. Let it rest for about 30-45 minutes before serving, or even longer if you have time. Cut tenderloin against the grain with an electric cutting knife into thin slices. If desired, you can dump the juices from the tenderloin into the bordelaise sauce for extra flavor. Serve tenderloin with bordelaise sauce in a gravy boat.

Tip: Another less expensive option is a tri-tip – it is nowhere near as tender, but it is still good.

This dish is excellent served with boiled green beans dressed with olive oil and lemon, roasted potatoes, and whole wheat potato dinner rolls or challah bread.

4 responses to “beef tenderloin with bordelaise sauce.

  1. Thanks Meg, looks delicious. I needed a good beef tenderloin recipe for the holidays!!

  2. Great Meg! Thanks for sharing. I just finished my last wedding of the year and was looking for a good recipe for my holidays. Perfect!

    • Meg

      Hi Silvana! Congrats on finishing wedding season! Yes you should definitely try this! Just make sure to make it easy on yourself and make the sauce ahead of time! Then just focus on the beef the day of serving. 🙂 Happy holidays to you and your family.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address below to follow this blog and receive instant notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: