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Crusted beef tenderloin is a way to prepare the roast so, when finished cooking, the meat is encased in a crisp and flavorful shell of ingredients. The crust can be made from many things, including herbs, garlic, mustard, horseradish, cheese, bacon, breadcrumbs or coffee. The cooking method involves coating the meat in a paste made from the crust ingredients and then roasting the tenderloin until the meat is cooked and the outer crust has become crisp and brown. The meat sometimes is seared in a pan before having the crust applied to prevent the naturally released meat juices from interfering with the crisping process. A few recipes for crusted beef tenderloin go beyond just coating the meat in a paste and actually wrap the meat and the paste in bacon.
One simple recipe for crusted beef tenderloin involves forming a very flavorful crust of herbs on the surface. This involves mixing chopped parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic together with olive oil to make a thick paste. The paste is rubbed into the surface of the tenderloin, which should be as dry as possible. The roast then is placed in an oven and cooked, during which time the outer crust will crisp and form a distinctive layer around the meat.
Stronger types of crusted beef tenderloin use ingredients that have some spicy flavor. This can include stone-ground or whole grain mustard mixed with chives, thyme, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Alternately, a unique taste can be created with a crust made from freshly grated horseradish that is combined with cracked pepper, mustard and oil.
Nearly any combination of ingredients can be used to make a crusted beef tenderloin, so long as they are able to be suspended in some type of liquid, such as oil or mustard, and adhered to the side of the meat. In some cases, the meat is seared quickly in a pan before the crust in applied so moisture from the meat does not come out while cooking and wash away the crust. One technique that also can be used is to coat the meat in a crust and then sear it so the crust cooks, caramelizes and becomes solid before finishing the meat in the oven.
When applying the ingredients for crusted beef tenderloin, the crust usually does not extend all the way down and around the roast, because the lower parts most likely will be very wet from the cooking juices and the crust would fall off. In some preparations, the roast is tied with twine so it will cook evenly, although this means that some of the crust could come off with the string if care is not taken. Not all crusts impart flavor to the interior of the meat, even when allowed to marinate.