I recall a meal in Montepulciano, Italy, in Tuscany: red wine braised rabbit over creamy polenta. What made this dish so memorable was that the meat was bursting with flavor straight through to the bone, a rare occurrence in many US restaurants. When preparing dense cuts of meat (leg of lamb, whole beef tenderloin, short ribs or veal shanks), I like to begin marination the night before cooking. This gives the marinade ample time to penetrate the meat and ensure that every bite is flavorful. [[As a side note, I was quite impressed to see cook eat FRET does this too, as she describes in this post]]
For my style of cooking, I’m more concerned with adding flavor than tenderizing meat. I add salt, pooh-poohing the notion that it will draw out the moisture. And just in case I’m wrong, I add olive oil… so what the salt taketh away, the olive oil giveth.
For 1 whole beef tenderloin:
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped garlic
2 tbs. chopped fresh sage
1 tbs. chopped fresh thyme
2 scallions, cut into rounds
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tbs. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, and simmer until the shallots are soft and translucent
2. Add the herbs and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the spices are aromatic. Remove from heat.
4. Let marinade cool before using