Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate: One Sure-Fire Way to Test Someone's Open-Mindedness to Food

Before you make the face that my family made when I mentioned "beef" and "chocolate" in the same sentence (that face would be utter disgust, for those of you still catching on to my family's eating preferences), hear me out. This beef tenderloin is elegant, sophisticated, savory, satisfying and full of complexity. It could not be easier to make or more tender, and the chocolate white wine sauce that it simmers in and then can be dipped in is more than intriguing: it met all of my expectations.

I, too, was nervous to combine savory with chocolate, even though I know haute-cuisine chefs have been singing this duo's praises for at least a little while now. I have been dying to try it, though, ever since I was given The Golden Book of Chocolate, which devotes a full chapter to the brilliance that is savory chocolate cuisine. However, there was no sneaking this one past la famille; they weren't having any of it. Imagine my excitement, then, to find out that one of my birthday gifts from L was a paid shopping spree to Whole Foods to pick out all of the ingredients I'd like for a homecooked meal of my choosing. He knows how frustrated I can get, caught in the rut of chicken-and-starch dinners, so he offered to help cook and eat anything my little heart desired.

At first, I was convinced that I would choose some vegetarian dish, because removing meat from the dinner plate in the Floptimism household is near blasphemous, and must only be done in lasagna/mac & cheese type situations. However, then I got to thinking about Whole Foods, and their wonderful selection of Grass-Fed Beef. I rarely eat red meat anymore, since grass-fed is so hard to come by (and pretty darn expensive when you do happen to find it).

After that, this Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate was all that I wanted. So, ingredient list in hand, we trucked out to our Whole Foods and filled our basket with some good, organic dark chocolate, $27 worth of beef tenderloin (for 2 people! 2! My dad says this is totally reasonable for organic tenderloin, but alas, I remain shocked), and, well, a fruit bar that caught L's eye. We were able to scrounge up the other ingredients between our two kitchens (and my parent's love of white wine), and then picked up some polenta as an experimental side.

The meal went off without a hitch, except for that I cooked the beef for too long because I couldn't help but be paranoid. This did not ruin the dish at all, and I know plenty of people who probably would have preferred the meat the way I cooked it (as in, not pink). I'd really encourage you to try this - it's a romantic meal, a simple meal, and a tasty one. Plus, it's probably something a little new and different, and you know how I feel about shaking things up with food.

Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate, courtesy of The Golden Book of Chocolate
Yield: 4-6 servings (I cut the recipe in half and found it very filling for 2 people)
The Ingredients
2lb. (1kg) beef tenderloin, in a single cut (we could only find them in 2 cuts, which most likely contributed to my slightly overcooking the meat in the end)
salt & freshly ground black pepper (omitted the salt, naturally)
3 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used a hefty scoop of pre-minced)
1 C (250mL) water
1/2 C (125mL) dry white wine
1oz. (30g) bittersweet (plain) chocolate, finely grated
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

The Method
1. After washing the meat, season it with salt (if using) and pepper.
2. Melt the butter in a saute or frying pan, large enough to hold the beef and all of the liquids that will eventually be added (I wound up switching to a simple, medium-sized sauce pot). Brown the beef in the pan until the piece is sealed completely, 8-10 min.
3. Add the onion and garlic, reducing the heat to medium. Saute until the onion is softened, roughly 5 min.
4. Pour in the water and wine, then cover and simmer over low heat for around 15 min.
5. Add the chocolate and continue simmering until the meat is tender, 15-30min. (I went with a scant 15 min. and my two pieces were absolutely done.)
6. Slice the beef thinly and sprinkle with the parsley, serving alongside the sauce for drizzling or dipping.

The polenta was relatively bland, which offered a nice, clean side dish that wouldn't conflict with the flavorful sauce; however, actually salting the water in which I boiled it, as the directions instructed me to, probably wouldn't have hurt. A side salad or even mashed potatoes would be other acceptable accompaniments to the meal.

Really, though, however you choose to serve this, you should do so. It's not inexpensive because of the wine, chocolate, and cut of meat, but it really is something special.

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