Beef Tenderloin with Ancho and Fennel Seeds

Vitaly Paley's luscious beef tenderloin won over more than a few skeptical cooks in F&W's Test Kitchen, who agreed that the seemingly discordant spice combination of ground ancho, fennel seeds and star anise not only works, but works brilliantly.


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  • Servings: 8

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  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 star anise pod, broken into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons pure ancho chile powder
  • One trimmed 4-pound beef tenderloin roast
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a spice grinder, grind the fennel seeds and star anise to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the ancho powder.

  2. Set the tenderloin roast on a large rimmed baking sheet and season all over with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the tenderloin and evenly drizzle with the oil, then gently pat the spices into the meat. Roast the tenderloin in the upper third of the oven for 35 minutes, turning it over once using sturdy tongs, until browned all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 135° for medium-rare meat. Transfer the roast to a carving board and let stand for up to 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, set the baking sheet over 2 burners and add the water. Simmer over moderate heat, scraping up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the sheet, until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Season the jus with salt and pepper and transfer into a warmed gravy boat. Carve the tenderloin into 1/3-inch-thick slices and serve with the jus.

Make Ahead

The spice-coated tenderloin roast can be refrigerated for up to 6 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes before roasting.

Suggested Pairing

Substantial, intense Pinot Noir.

Contributed By Photo © Rob Howard Published February 2006

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