Chateaubriand is a recipe for a small thick cut of beef located between the sirloins. Many mistakenly think that chateaubriand is an actual cut of beef, but the term only refers to the recipe. It's an extremely tender dish when cooked correctly, but can be tricky to get right. An average chateaubriand steak is the thickness of a small roast, weights approximately 12 to 16 oz (about 340 to 453 grams) and is traditionally prepared for two servings.
Tricky to Cook
The thickness of tenderloin makes it challenging to prepare this dish properly. Though most prefer the meat rare, it is difficult to cook it all the way through without drying out the steak. The most common method of cooking is to quickly flame-broil to sear the meat and then roast it in a very hot oven. It may have originally been made by being roasted between two other cuts of tenderloin that were cooked until they burned, leaving the inner steak cooked correctly, or by stuffing a piece of tenderloin with shallots and then roasting it.
Served with Sauces
This dish can be served with a variety of sauces, though sauces featuring shallots and mushrooms tend to be popular. It may also be served with béarnaise sauce or a red wine sauce. Most of the sauces also feature herbs, particularly thyme, bay, and parsley, but chefs regularly experiment with ingredients and may serve this dish with a completely different type of sauce. Chateaubriand is often served with chateau potatoes, a dish of peeled potatoes cooked in butter.
History of Chateaubriand
The dish was first prepared for the author, diplomat and nobleman, Vicomte de Chateaubriand, thus the name. The Vicomte’s chef, Montmireil, created the special dish in the early 1820s. Though chateaubriand traditionally uses the tenderloin, the term more commonly refers to the process of cooking and preparing a thick cut of beef, rather than the cut itself. Restaurants often use filet mignon or porterhouse cuts to prepare this dish. The original chef may have even used a more flavorful, less tender cut of beef and the tenderloin cut became commonplace later.
Some question the spelling and consequently the origin of chateaubriand. Chateaubriant, the alternative spelling, is a town in the Loire-Atlantique department of France. This area is internationally renowned for its cattle breeding. Today this beef is highly recognized and known for its flavor and tenderness. Kobe beef also tends to work well for this dish.