Coffee and Chocolate Encrusted Beef Tenderloin with Tortilla Sauce

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I rarely eat beef. Maybe twice a year. So when I do, I make it worth my while. I buy the best, and I make sure I give it the royal treatment. The recipe is an adaptation of a recipe I saw in The Times years ago with some influence of tortilla sauces I've made in the past. It's a beautiful buffet dish because it does very well at room temperature. Consider slicing it very thin and serving the sauce separately.

Coffee, chocolate, and chilis are natural friends. After you try the combination, it becomes difficult to imagine them separately. The trio does well in sweet and savory situations; pairing with beef as well as whipped cream.

Corn tortillas are my preference in any tortilla situation. Their role in this sauce is significant. They lend a rustic flavor that is the perfect background to the smoky chipotle and dried chilies.

Please remember to trust your thermometer. Overcooked beef is a tragedy, and I promise you this is not an inexpensive cut of meat. The temperature will continue to rise after cooking, and generally, the outer edges of the meat will be a bit more done than the center. That should be perfect for accommodating your guests' preferences.

Buon Appetito

Coffee Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

Yield: 6


  • 3 tablespoons finely ground dark roasted coffee beans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 pounds beef tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Ancho chiles,  or dried Guajillo chiles
  • 2 6-inch yellow corn tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 oyster mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


How to cook Coffee Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  2. Combine coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, and cayenne in a bowl and pour into a shallow dish.  Season the beef with salt and generously with pepper.  Roll the meat in the coffee mixture to coat all sides.  Place in a roasting rack in t roasting pan and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Roast the beef for 10 minutes in the oven.  Lower the heat to 250º F.  Continue roasting for 50 minutes until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 130º F.  Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil for 15 to 30  minutes.  The internal temperature will continue to rise to 135º.  
  1. Cut the top off of each chili, pull out the seeds and discard the top and seeds.  Cut the tortilla into 1/2-inch pieces and set both chilis and tortilla aside.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over high heat.  When foaming subsides, add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, 5 minutes.  Add another tablespoon of butter and chilies and tortilla.  Cook over medium-low heat until softened.  Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.  Puree using an immersion blender until smooth. Transfer the mixture and push the mixture through a fine sieve or food mill over a pan. Add in half and half, brown sugar, and Kosher salt to taste.  
  1. Heat the remaining butter in a large skillet.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden — season with Kosher salt and pepper.  
  2. Reheat sauce and serve over beef sprinkled with mushrooms.
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