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Beef tenderloin is your secret weapon for an effortless holiday dinner

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Relax, it's actually hard to screw up beef tenderloin

The holidays are here, and the time has come to whip up an impressive meal that tops last year's feast. For most of us, the key to any holiday spread is a fabulous-looking piece of red meat in the middle of the table — just waiting to be carved up. Beef tenderloin totally gets the job done.

It's a bit of a splurge, and may seem a bit intimidating, but mastering the art of a perfectly roasted beef tenderloin isn't nearly as hard as it sounds. Keep things simple, let the meat speak for itself and have the amazing quality ingredients you use create something truly special.

More: 20 holiday foods perfect for gift-giving

This roast is delicious as is or with a sauce of your choosing. And leftovers are spectacular for things like lunchtime sandwiches, a steak salad or just plain snacking — trust us, not a scrap will be wasted.

Perfect beef tenderloin recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef tenderloin roast, preferably trimmed
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon or so rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon or so thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Butcher's twine

Directions:

  1. The day before serving, examine your tenderloin and trim off any excess fat or tendons. Using a mortar and pestle, grind together the garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme, using a little olive oil to smooth it along. Rub this mixture all over the tenderloin. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
  2. Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator an hour before roasting and let it come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Tie up the tenderloin such that it is even in thickness, tucking up the thinner tail if necessary. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and place in a shallow roasting pan.
  4. Roast 35 to 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F. Loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. And that's it. You're done! Slice and serve.

More: How to make steak with chimichurri like an Argentine steakhouse chef

And the perfect side dish for beef tenderloin? You guessed it... Brussels sprouts.

Relax, it's actually hard to screw up beef tenderloin
Image: julie clancy/Moment/Getty Images

Balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and vinegar and toss the sprouts around.
  3. Repeat with the olive oil.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing several times during the cooking process. Sprinkle on a little more kosher salt just before serving.

More: 11 ways to get anyone to love roasted Brussels sprouts (INFOGRAPHIC)

Originally published December 2008. Updated December 2016.

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