The Classic French Chateaubriand

Slicing classic French chateaubriand on a wooden cutting board

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
560 Calories
36g Fat
6g Carbs
45g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 560
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 47%
Saturated Fat 15g 73%
Cholesterol 166mg 55%
Sodium 200mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 45g
Calcium 57mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The meaning of the French term chateaubriand can be confusing. Depending on whom you ask, it can either refer to a cut of steak or the method of roasting a beef tenderloin. Despite this confusion, rest assured that when you order a chateaubriand from a French restaurant menu, you will receive a beautiful center-cut piece of beef tenderloin (usually enough to serve two), along with a classic red wine sauce.

Beef tenderloin is one of the most expensive pieces of beef, but for a good reason. The cut lives up to its name, providing the most naturally tender, succulent piece of beef available. Note that a filet mignon, another pricey steakhouse cut, is the skinny part of the beef tenderloin.

This chateaubriand recipe is a traditional version of the restaurant favorite. The lusciously tender center-cut hunk of beef is seasoned very simply, roasted to perfection, and then sliced on the diagonal. Be sure to make the easy shallot and wine sauce to accompany the meat and serve with chateau potatoes for authenticity. chateaubriand is a perfect roast for the French Christmas table. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef tenderloin (center cut)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened and divided)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (medium-bodied)
  • 1/2 cup demi-glace
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ​tarragon (chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried​)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making a classic French Chateaubriand
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  3. Evenly season the beef with salt and pepper.

    Evenly seasoned beef
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) set over medium-high heat until cloudy and bubbly.

    Melted butter in a cast-iron skillet
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Place the seasoned meat in the pan and brown for 3 minutes without moving the meat. Using tongs, carefully turn the tenderloin on its side and brown for 3 minutes more. Repeat the same browning process on all exposed surfaces of the meat.

    Browning the seasoned meat in a cast-iron pan
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt 
  6. Transfer the tenderloin to a rack placed in a roasting pan and transfer to the oven. (Set aside the skillet with any accumulated juices for making the sauce.) Roast the beef to your desired doneness, about 15 minutes for medium-rare, 20 minutes for medium, and 23 minutes for medium-well.

    The tenderloin rests on a rack over a roasting pan
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. Remove the meat from the oven and transfer to a warm serving platter. Lightly tent the meat with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.

    The meat is on a plate tented with foil
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  8. While the tenderloin is resting, make the wine sauce. Combine the shallot with the juices in the skillet and sauté over medium heat until the shallot is soft and translucent.

    Making a wine sauce in a cast-iron skillet with finely chopped shallot and juices from the meat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  9. Pour the wine into the skillet and bring the sauce to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

    Bringing the wine sauce to a boil in a cast-iron skillet
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  10. Continue boiling the sauce until it reduces by half.

    The wine sauce is boiling in a cast-iron skillet until it reduces by half
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  11. Add the demi-glace to the sauce and continue boiling the mixture until slightly thickened.

    The demi-glace has been added to the wine sauce in the cast-iron skillet
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  12. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon softened butter and tarragon. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as needed.

    The wine sauce is removed from the heat and butter and seasonings added
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  13. Slice the meat on the diagonal and serve with the wine sauce. Enjoy.

    Cooked chateaubriand on a cutting board sliced on the diagonal, along with a bowl of wine sauce
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

Tips

  • If you do not have demi-glace, you can substitute with one (16-ounce) can of top-quality beef consommé or beef broth, reduced by half.
  • It is essential to let the chateaubriand rest. This will allow the meat juices to be reabsorbed and redistributed in the meat and enable clean slicing.