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Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Rainbow Peppercorn Pan Sauce

Serves: Makes 8 servings


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 2-½ pounds beef tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large celery ribs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Pan drippings from roasting pan
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fruity Merlot or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup rich beef stock
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons roughly ground rainbow peppercorns
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, for garnish


For many people, roasted beef occupies center stage for Christmas dinner. Beef tenderloin roasts faster than a prime rib and is easy to serve, making it a simple and satisfying main dish for this festive meal. Ask your butcher to cut from the head end of the tenderloin. You can also save a little money on this pricey cut by buying it untrimmed and removing excess fat yourself. Make sure to watch the pan drippings during roasting and add water or stock to prevent them from browning too much. You’ll want to use those flavorful bits of roasted goodness for your pan sauce.

Preheat oven to 450°F and place a rack in the center. Allow roast to sit at room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Place a large, heavy roasting pan across two burners, add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Generously season the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Using tongs, carefully place the tenderloin in the pan and sear on all sides until well browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat, remove tenderloin and place on a heatproof cutting board. Place a large roasting rack inside the roasting pan. Place tenderloin on rack and scatter vegetables across bottom of pan. Place pan in oven and roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the tenderloin registers 120 °F, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and carefully transfer tenderloin and rack to heatproof cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and allow roast to rest for at least 10 minutes. Internal temperature of the tenderloin will rise about 5° as it rests.

Strain pan drippings through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to remove all liquid. Pour strained drippings into a fat separator and pour off degreased drippings, discarding fat. Return drippings to roasting pan and place over two burners. Heat over medium-high heat and add shallots. Cook, stirring constantly until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add wine, stock, rosemary and peppercorns, stirring bottom of roasting pan with a wooden spoon to release browned bits. Cook mixture until liquid is reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove rosemary sprigs. Taste sauce and season with salt. Stir in butter, if using. Transfer sauce to a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

To serve: , place tenderloin on a cutting board with a well. Using a sharp carving knife, slice into thick slices across the grain. Place slices on a serving platter, garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Pass pan sauce in a gravy boat at the table.

Tested and perfected in the Sur la Table kitchen

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