Southwestern Cooking Defined
Chef Robert Del Grande was Houston’s first real celebrity chef who, coincidentally, did not start as a chef or cook in the industry. Instead, he received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California Riverside in 1980. Still, when Robert and his fiancé (Mimi) moved to Houston in 1981, he began to experiment in the kitchen with Mimi’s sister and brother-in-law, who started Cafe Annie. It is at Cafe Annie where he developed the Fillet of Beef Roasted with coffee and Pasilla Chile. Del Grande quickly became the executive chef and never looked back.
Del Grande was instrumental in defining Southwestern cooking and, by 1992, was recognized by the James Beard Society as the Best Chef, Southwest. He has received numerous accolades and awards, and some of his recipes have become iconic. So many other chefs have been inspired by his unique take on southwestern food that he often imitates and references. This dish is one of those iconic recipes that match the deep rich flavor of beef tenderloin with the earthy dark flavors of a roasted coffee and cocoa rub that accentuates and compliments the beef.
For matching wine, try Joseph Phelps, Freestone Pinot Noir, 2015; Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel, 2016; Ridge Vineyards “Lytton Springs” Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, 2015
Fillet of Beef Roasted with Coffee in Pasilla Chile Crema
- cutting board
- chef knife
- thin-bladed knife such as a filet knife
- fine mesh sieve
- saute pan or saucier
- measuring cups and spoons
- ladle (optional)
- 2 lbs beef fillet, tenderloin cleaned of silver skin and trussed
- 1 tsp salt, kosher, or sea
- ½ tsp pepper, black coarse ground pepper
- 2 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp adobo seasoning
- 2 tbsp coffee, ground
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
- ½ half white onion, chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 whole pasilla chile, dried (stems and seeds removed and torn into pieces)
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 corn tortilla
- ¼ cup cream, heavy
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ⅛ tsp salt, kosher
- Preheat oven to (400°F or 205°C).
For the Sauce
- In a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter. Once melted, add onion, garlic, de-seeded pasilla chile pieces, and cook until the onions are soft and pliable.
- Once the chiles and onions are soft, add chicken stock, brown sugar, and corn tortilla pieces. Cook while occasionally stirring until the tortilla pieces are dissolved or relatively soft. Remove from heat and allow it to cool for blending.
- When the chile sauce is cool, add it to a blender and process until you have a smooth sauce (about 3 minutes).
- Run the sauce back into the skillet through a fine-mesh sieve. Use a ladle or rubber spatula to press the sauce through. Discard the contents in the sieve.
- Bring the sauce back up to a simmering temperature and add heavy cream. Stir. At this point, you can adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if it needs any. Reserve the sauce and keep warm.
Prep the Beef
- Using a denuded or cleaned beef tenderloin, be sure to remove all silver skin or sinew. If you have a tenderloin with the tail end, cut this off and save for another meal (unless you need additional portions).
- Tie butchers twine in evenly spaced intervals, as shown in the pictures. The string will help the tenderloin hold a consistent shape and size.
- Once the tenderloin is trussed or secured with twine, rub the tenderloin all over with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to coat the whole tenderloin.
- Prepare a baking sheet with the cinnamon, coffee, cocoa, adobe seasoning mixture. First, make sure this dry rub is thoroughly mixed. Next, add the tenderloin to the rub to cover completely.
- Lift the tenderloin out of the coffee mixture and tap to remove any excess seasoning. Place the tenderloin on a roasting pan or sheet pan and place it into a (400°F or 205°C) degree oven.
- Roast the tenderloin for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to (225°-230°F or 107°- 110°C). Continue roasting the tenderloin until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare, about 25-30 minutes. Cook the tenderloin more or less to the degree of doneness you wish.
Rest the Meat Before Carving
- Before carving, allow the meat to rest on a cutting board with an aluminum foil tent placed over the top to keep warm.
- Remove the strings from the tenderloin and slice the meat in ½ inch slices. Cut only enough beef you need to serve. Save the rest as a backup if desired.
- Serve on a warmed platter or dish with pasilla chile sauce.