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What is Chateaubriand?

By KD Morgan
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ZsaZsa56 — On Apr 06, 2012

What are your guys favorite sauces to serve or eat with this dish? I have had it with a red wine sauce and also a mushroom sauce and once even a hollandaise. Have you guys tried others? What was the best?

By summing — On Apr 05, 2012

I went to culinary school and in my second year our final assignment was to make a perfect Chateaubriand. I practiced for weeks before hand trying to get my recipe just right. I had some huge failures and some near misses but I never quite got it just right. It didn't help that I was a vegetarian and didn't really like working with meat.

So I went in on the exam day really sweating bullets because I had never done it perfectly. But the Gods of the kitchen were on my side that day because I ended up turning out the best piece of meat I have ever cooked. I got an A.

By tigers88 — On Apr 04, 2012

I have tried to make Chateaubriand on a few occasions and be forewarned, it is really hard to make correctly. The mistakes are still edible and usually pretty tasty, but to get it to the standards of a rigid french chef is really tricky.

Basically you have to be an expert in beef. It takes very careful preparation and then very careful cooking. Even if you monitor it closely it can easily be screwed up. It almost takes a sixth sense.

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