Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. Today’s post is kind of an alternative to my prior post “Ribeye Cap“. Today we’re going to talk about “Costco Tenderloin“.
So for those who don’t know, you can buy a whole tenderloin from Costco (Kirkland Brand).
I’m writing about tenderloins today because my wife and father-in-law prefer filets mignons over the ribeye cap. My mother-in-law, daughter, and I prefer the ribeye cap. My son doesn’t seem to like steak, at least not yet.
For this reason, I wanted to talk about how getting filets from tenderloins today.
Why Costco? Why a whole tenderloin?
Well, in general, a whole tenderloin (cryovac’d) is significantly cheaper than buying the same quantity of meat already cut up (or even trimmed).
Currently, I believe the price for a Costco Beef Tenderloin is about $19.99/lb if you buy it already cut and trimmed aka “Peeled Extreme”. That’s the same price you’d pay at Whole Foods for an untrimmed tenderloin or $15.99/lb at your local supermarket. However, for a trimmed tenderloin, you can expect to pay around $29.99/lb at Whole Foods.
However, if you’re not afraid to do a little bit of your own work, you can buy the whole tenderloin (untrimmed) in a cryovac from Costo. This means that you get the whole thing altogether as a big slab. It’s labeled as “Beef Loin Tenderloin Whole Vacuum Packaged”. However, this usually means you’re paying about 40% less , so around $11.99/lb.
Essentially Costco sells a PSMO (Peeled, Silver Skin, Side Muscle On) Tenderloin. Most of the excess fat has been removed, but there is usually still some you’ll want to cut away. The Silver Skin and Side Muscles are still there.
Whoa! That’s big savings!
It definitely is. However, in general, the Costco Tenderloin is usually packaged at 6-8 lb price points. That’s a whole lot of meat!
So you’re looking at spending at least around $78 depending on what size you go with. Just looking at that number is a little daunting, but you must understand that you’re getting A LOT of meat.
Since you will be cutting away some excess fat and silverskin, you aren’t technically getting all that meat for $11.99/lb. However, it’s still a much better deal than buying it already prepared.
Wait, what quality is the Costco Tenderloin?
The Costco Tenderloin is “Choice”, which is basically middle tier. Above this would be Prime and below this would be Select. However, I think Choice is just fine for the tenderloin.
That said, for the Ribeye Cap, I would prefer Prime.
What can I make out of the Costco Tenderloin?
Well for you anatomists out there, the “tenderloin” is really just the psoas muscle. We humans have them too. They are the big muscles which connect our lumbar vertebra to our femurs. In other words, they are the “hip flexors”. However, in cows, they do very little work and so are very tender.
There is essentially 3 parts to the tenderloin, which are the butt (fat end), center cut (medium size), and tail (thin).
In general, the butt may be difficult to cut into traditional steak size. I think you can still use it to make steaks, although they might not be as “pretty” as the center cut filets. However, some people prefer to just roast the butt instead. As for me, I’m not running a restaurant, so I just cut them into filets.
The center cut is where you get all your beautiful uniform filets from. Cut it into 2″ slices. Depending on how big of a tenderloin you have and how much into the butt and tail you go into from the center cut, you’ll get anywhere from 4-8 filets. These are why you bought the whole tenderloin. You can refrigerate them for a few days before cooking. Or if you don’t plan to use them all, freeze the ones you don’t plan to make.
The tail is smaller in diameter than the center cut. However, you can still cut these into filets as well, referred to as medallions. Some prefer the medallions from the tail versus the center cut since they are a little smaller. Instead of an 8 oz center cut filet, you can serve two 4 oz medallions instead from the tail. Or if you want to, you can cut it thicker into a tournedos(pronounced “TOO-neh-doe” ). See further comment at the end of the post.
Sounds pretty easy…
Well, it’s harder than you may think when you do it your first time. However, it’s a good experience and I think one that everyone should try at least once.
The above instructions are just for the tenderloin. Before you get to that portion, you need to cut away excess fat and silver skin from the tenderloin as well as “the chain”. “The chain” are the accessory muscles outside the main tenderloin. In general, this can only be used for stew meat or ground beef. However, if you’re ok with doing a little more work, you can cut away all the excess fat and make these into little beef chunks called “tips”. Some grillmasters will grill these pieces first as little snacks while they grill the rest of the tenderloin. Other people say you can use them to make a pseudo carne-asada for a few tacos on the side. You can decide what to do with yours once you clean it up.
There are a lot of good videos online for how to slice up a tenderloin, but here are my favorites:
This first one is good for understanding Costco’s specific PSMO and what to do from a normal guy like us.
This one is good for understanding how to cut and what to do with it from a professional chef.
This one is just another take on it, from a professional chef.
If you don’t like videos, here is a good one of just pictures:
Um, well, the first time I did it I kind of just YOLO’d it.
I had one of these videos running on my TV while I tried to cut the tenderloin on my kitchen counter. First things first, when you take the whole tenderloin out of the packaging, make sure you get the orientation right. Get your bearings for what is the butt, center cut, and tail. Then make sure you’ve recognized where the chain is.
Give yourself lots of a room and a lot of time. I think you should just separate the chain first. Then, make sure when you’re doing the silverskin part that you’re using a thin, flexible knife to get underneath and cut it off without cutting any of that good meat off. Take your time and try to get get all the silver skin off. That’s the stuff you don’t want in your steak -at all-.
Do your best to get the excess fat off. If it’s your first time, don’t try to just eyeball what 2″ is. Get out a ruler or use something to help measure. The filets you get from the butt and tail parts probably won’t look that great, but try your best to mold them into nice chunks, somewhat similar to your center cut stuff.
Trust me when I say your tenderloin won’t look anywhere near as nice as the chefs above after cutting off the silver skin and excess fat. Additionally, it will take you significantly longer than the above videos. However, you’ll be amazed at how nice your filets will look when all is said and done.
Then just decide which ones you’ll be keeping to eat soon and which ones you want to freeze for another day.
Give it a shot! There’s something to be said for stepping outside of your comfort zone, trying something new, and accomplishing it.
After having those ribeye caps, I was thinking about cutting up my own filet steaks again this weekend. I haven’t done it in awhile.
What if I want to be lazy?
Well, the Costco trimmed tenderloin is $19.99/lb. It’s labeled as “Peeled Extreme”.
From my understanding, the excess fat, silver skin, and butt have all been trimmed away. So it’s like it’s just the center cut tenderloin, already prepared for you, just take it home and cut it into filets.
This is still a decent deal with respect to your local supermarket or Whole Foods, but not as good bang for your buck as the Costco PSMO of course.
Bonus: What are the cuts of the tenderloin?
So a tenderloin is technically divided into these “cuts”:
Filet Mignon is cut from the center of the tenderloin, since it is uniform.
Chateaubriand is really just a thick cut from the center cut. It’s essentially 2-3 filet migons in thickness. It is usually roasted all together, and then cut up into strips.
Tournedos are cut from the thinner side of the tenderloin, next to the filet migon. However, because it’s smaller in diameter they are usually cut thicker to maintain the same weight as an 8 oz filet.
Costco Tenderloin PSMO is the best bang for your buck at $11.99/lb.
Try cutting your own whole tenderloin into filet steaks.
If you want to be lazy, you can buy the trimmed Costco tenderloin for $19.99/lb, it’s labeled as “Peeled Extreme”.
I haven’t cut up a Costco PSMO in awhile, so I may do it this weekend.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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I picked up some whole tenderloins at Aldi for $10 a pound late last year. Choice beef at a price that’s hard to beat.
I also picked up a sous vide immersion cooker and have been loving it! Have made broccoli, mashed potatoes, top round roast, flank steak, sirloin, porchetta, pork tenderloin, salmon, and marinated chicken with it. Everything has turned out great.
I’ve been wanting to try out sous vide. My friend has been trying to convince me.
However, I haven’t quite pulled the trigger yet since my father-in-law likes to grill. We’ll see…
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