Pesto-Rolled Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Pepper Rouille

Tenderloin may be the tenderest cut of beef, but it is also the blandest. It needs help from a rich sauce, a fragrant rub, or (as in this recipe) a stuffing of grilled vegetables and a crust of aromatic pesto. If you need to prepare it in advance, you can stuff it and wrap it (steps 1 through 7) and refrigerate it for several hours before grilling. It’s even great cold if you want to make the whole thing the day before.

By David Joachim and Andrew Schloss
Serves 8
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For the beef:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 chile, such as jalapeño or serrano
  • 1 beef tenderloin, about 3 pounds, trimmed and tied
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Oil for coating grill grate

For the pesto:

  • 2 ounces fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Prepare and preheat the grill for direct cooking at 400° to 450°F. If using charcoal and/or wood, preheat to a light ash.

Put a grill screen on the grill and put the bell pepper and chile on the screen. Cook, covered, until they are charred on all sides, about 15 minutes for the bell pepper and 10 minutes for the chile. When charred, put in a covered bowl until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the pesto by chopping the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process in pulses to a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make a hole down the center of the tenderloin, into which you can insert the stuffing, position a sharpening steel at the thicker end of the tenderloin and push it through until its tip comes out the other side. Remove the steel. Insert a thin, long-bladed knife into the hole made by the steel several times, making short slits to enlarge the hole.

Peel the grilled peppers and discard the stem, core, and seeds. Dice finely and combine with the garlic, anchovy, parsley, breadcrumbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Stand the tenderloin on end and spoon the pepper mixture into the hole, packing it down with the steel or the handle of a wooden spoon. When about half of the stuffing is in the meat, turn the tenderloin over and fill the hole from the other side.

Put the beef on a sheet of plastic wrap and rub the exterior with the pesto. Wrap in the plastic and set aside for 10 minutes.

Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the tenderloin on the grill, cover, and cook until browned on all 4 sides, about 5 minutes per side. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thicker end; it should register 120°F for medium-rare. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 400°F.

Let rest for about 5 minutes; slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve.

Tip: If you want to cook the tenderloin more than medium-rare, turn off a burner and move the meat out of direct heat. Cook for 10 minutes more and check the internal temperature (130°F for medium, 140°F or higher for well-done).

A grill screen will keep the chile from falling through the grill grate, or use your Kalamazoo vegetable-pattern cooking surface.