In the latest of our Pinterest adventures, I tried a recipe for Charred Beef Tenderloin With Cacio e Pepe Toasted Barley from Serious Eats. We rarely cook beef at home, but it seemed doable, and the idea of cooking barley “cacio e pepe” style was intriguing.
We picked up a 3/4 lb. (12 oz.) cut of beef tenderloin from Di Bruno Bros. Not buying beef very often, I didn’t know it would be so expensive. I have to say, though, the quality was outstanding. I took the beef out of the refrigerator about an hour before starting cooking, to bring it up to room temperature.
I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, except I made a parsley and pine nut pesto instead of a watercress and walnut pesto, since that’s what I had around, plus I love parsley with beef.
The 2/3 cup barley took nearly an hour to cook, so that definitely needs to be started beforehand. While the barley was cooking, I prepared the parsley pesto, using about 1 cup chopped parsley, 3 tablespoons pine nuts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan, and salt & pepper to taste.
I didn’t start the beef until the barley was done and the pesto was prepared, as I didn’t want any distractions. Per the recipe, I rubbed the beef with olive oil and salt and pepper. Cooking over high heat is a challenge with the electric stove in our apartment. The temperature I cooked at was more of a medium-high than high, in order to avoid excessive smoke and burning. I cooked the tenderloin exactly 10 minutes, flipping every 1 minute. I like my beef “rare plus” or medium rare, so this came out perfect for me, but in order to achieve closer to medium, it probably needed a few more minutes.
The beef needed about 10 minutes to rest, so at this point I toasted the cooked barley with 2 tsp ground pepper and 2 tsp butter (I used butter instead of olive oil), for about 7 minutes per the recipe. The recipe calls for adding 2 tablespoon of grated pecorino at the end (I used parmesan). If I make this recipe again (oh, I think I will!) I would add more cheese to make it more comparable to cacio e pepe.
When everything was ready, I sliced the beef and served it on top of a bed of the barley and topped with the parsley pesto. It was certainly the best beef dish I ever made! For the two of us, we actually probably only needed a 8 oz filet instead of 12 oz, and I’m not sure we would splurge on such an expensive cut, but that is part of what made it so delicious. The barley was very peppery and tasty, but as mentioned above, I would have liked more cheese.