All-season Coffee-Roasted Tenderloin
Serves 4 to 6
2 poblano peppers
2 pounds beef tenderloin, tied in 1-inch intervals
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely-ground coffee beans (espresso grind)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large pinch ground cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
A big handful of corn tortilla chips, crushed, or 1 small corn tortilla, torn into pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup Mexican crema (or ½ cup each sour cream and heavy cream)
Additional salt and pepper
For cold sauce: 1 cup good mayonnaise and ½ cup Mexican crema (skip the stock and the other ½ cup of crema from the warm sauce ingredients)
Roast the poblanos under a broiler or on gas burners until the skin is blackened all over. Put them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for 20 minutes. Then remove the skin with your fingers, and seed and stem the peppers. Cut them into strips and set them aside.
Combine the coffee beans, cocoa, and cinnamon and spread the mixture out on a baking sheet – spreading to an area as long as the tenderloin. Rub the tenderloin with the salt and pepper, then coat it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roll the tenderloin in the coffee mixture, getting it well coated all over. Set the tenderloin on a part of the baking sheet that’s clean, then wipe up the rest of the sheet with paper towels. Set the oven to 400 degrees F, and let the beef sit for 30 minutes.
Saute the onions and garlic in the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat until very soft and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder and the crushed tortilla chips, and saute for another minute. Then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then puree it all in a blender. (Be sure to remove the plastic insert from the top, and put a folded kitchen towel over the blender cover and hold it down with your hand. The blender shouldn’t be more than about one-third to one-half full when you blend it.)
Strain the sauce to get out any unblended chip pieces. Put it back over low heat, and warm it to just under boiling. Whisk in the crema, and taste for salt and pepper. Cover the pot and keep the sauce warm. You can reheat it, but don’t boil it.
Put the beef on a roasting rack and put the rack on the baking sheet. Roast the beef for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 degrees F. Cook it to an internal temperature of 125 degrees F for medium rare, that’ll take 20 minutes or so. Remove the beef from the oven and let it rest on the carving board loosely covered in foil for 10 minutes. Cut off the strings, and slice the beef into ¼-inch thick slices. Serve with the warm sauce and poblano strips.
For warmer weather: Saute the onions and garlic as directed. Add the chili powder and cook for another minute. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and let it cool completely. When cool, whisk in the mayonnaise and crema. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve this sauce with room-temperature tenderloin slices, along with the poblanos.