What Is Chateaubriand?

Written by joan whetzel
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What Is Chateaubriand?
Chateaubriand, named after a French writer, is cut from beef tenderloin. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Diners and chefs alike consider Chateaubriand the epitome of haute cuisine. The chef who created this legendary dish christened it after a public figure -- French writer and statesman François Auguste René Chateaubriand. Since its creation, Chateaubriand, a sumptuous meal typically cooked for two, has become one of the most expensive and sought-after dishes worldwide.

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History

François Auguste René, the viscount de Chateaubriand, led the Romanticism movement in writing during the 18th and 19th centuries. He held many diplomatic positions, eventually becoming ambassador to England for Louis XVIII. Legend has it that his chef created the famous dish in his honour -- roasting the expensive cut of meat until the ends were well cooked but leaving the centre portion rare.

Cut of Meat

Chateaubriand steaks come from the centre portion of beef tenderloin. The cut ranges from one-and-a-half to five or six inches in thickness and typically weighs 340 to 454gr. It should be large enough to serve two or three people. Due to its high cost, many butchers only cut a Chateaubriand by special order. When ordering, ask your butcher to cut a thick one-pound steak from the centre of the tenderloin.

Preparation

The thickness of the cut requires that care be taken to prevent charring the outside while leaving the centre raw. Also, grilling too closely to flame dries out the meat. The best recipes call for olive-oil rub sprinkled with Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper. Sear the meat on a grill or in a hob pan, then transfer to a baking pan. Roast it in the oven at 229 degrees Celsius for approximately 12 to 15 minutes until rare or medium -- and internal temperature of 130 to 140 degrees.

Serving Suggestions

Slice the Chateaubriand on the diagonal and place them on warmed plates. Deglaze the roasting pan with butter, red wine and shallots. Pour the demi-glace wine sauce over the Chateaubriand and adorn it with fresh tarragon. Chateaubriand may also be served with a béarnaise sauce. Traditional side dishes include steamed or sautéed vegetables and chateau potatoes, which are parboiled small potatoes roasted in butter.

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