Somehow, even though I’ve been married to a boy from Kentucky for nearly eight years, I’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby. One year, we were thisclose to going… but then had to cancel our flights and go to North Carolina to look for houses instead. Womp womp.
Anyway, we weren’t able to go this year, either, but we were FINALLY able to at least host a Derby party.
It turned out, the star of the show wasn’t the derby trifle (recipe coming soon!) or the mint juleps… it was the bourbon beef tenderloin. I didn’t take pictures of the marinating process (because that is not terribly photogenic) and I was baking cheese biscuits while Toby was grilling it, but I do have a few photos of the finished product.
I would definitely recommend asking a butcher to remove the fat and silver connective tissue if possible, because it’s kind of horrible to do that yourself (particularly if you aren’t really sure what you’re doing, like me!). But otherwise, it’s super easy to make and tastes absolutely amazing. Particularly when accompanied by a mint julep!
Bourbon-glazed beef tenderloin (Serves 8-10, adapted from The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook)
1 large handful of cilantro
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup bourbon
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
4 1/2 to 5-pound beef tenderloin, with fat and silver connective tissue removed
Rinse and chop the cilantro and thyme, then add them to a bowl with the bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire and water. Stir to combine.
Place the beef in a large zip-top bag or dish and pour the marinade over it. Secure the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate to marinate the beef 8-12 hours. Turn the beef over a few times during the marinating process, particularly if you’re using a dish and the beef isn’t totally covered with the liquid.
Start the grill and set heat to high (or preheat your oven to 350F, if you’re using that instead of the grill). Spray or brush some oil on the grill, then add the meat, keeping the marinade handy. Let the beef cook on high with the lid closed for the most part, but occasionally turn the tenderloin and baste or ladle some more marinade over it. Cook to desired temperature (it will likely take at 30-45 minutes for the middle to cook to rare). Let the beef rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Serve with horseradish sauce.