What follows is less a recipe and more the conclusion of an experiment with rather tasty results. I have been reading, cover to cover, hitherto something I'd never done with a cookbook, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "River Cottage Meat Book", the last 2 weeks or so. It's a heavy book, mildly put and I actually packed it before leaving Singapore. I've never been happier to spend money on a cookbook and I'll be posting my thoughts in "Kitchen Lust" when I'm done with Mr Double-Barrelled Surname's tome.

I was prompted by HFW's earnest,  almost evangelical prose to try "drying out" a choice piece of tenderloin, which I characteristically obtained at an obscenely fair price, through my ever resourceful husband. I divided the loin into 2,cut the first portion into thick steaks and cooked them in the normal way, using a blisteringly hot pan. They were good, as good beef is apt to be, as long as it's not overseasoned and most importantly, not overcooked. The other portion I drained thoroughly of blood, swaddled in a clean kitchen towel and left on a plate, in the fridge for 4 days, uncovered except for its cloth wrapping.

When I removed the wrapping earlier today, the meat was drier, slightly darker and had more "give" then it seemed to have 4 days ago. I might have left it another day or two, had I not succumbed to quivering insecurity over "spoilage", though the meat smelt perfectly fine. In any case, this was my approximation of the "hanging" or "aging" that is or was practiced in traditional butchery, where the carcass is hung in a chilled room with controlled humidity and temperature for anything up to a month or even more for the most traditional or intrepid. I decided to roast this portion as I had nearly choked on the fumes caused by pan frying 5 very generously sized steaks in such a poorly ventilated kitchen and probably alarmed the neighbours with the smoke that billowed out of the tiny kitchen windows.

The meat was much less "weepy" when cooking and crusted far more obligingly than the first portion had. It also cooked significantly faster than previous tenderloin roasts I had cooked before, which I had not "aged" prior to cooking - I realised that 10 minutes roasting would have been perfect, instead of the 15 minutes I had given it in the toaster. Yes, you are reading right. I had no oven, so I roasted the loin in a pizza toaster, and, it bloody worked!! And the greatest prize for my efforts; the flavour really did seem more concentrated and "beefier". So simple and so very scrummy.

Prep 5 mins (4 days 5 mins?)          Cook 15 mins          Serves 4


800 g beef tenderloin, trimmed of sinew and wiped dry (preferably the middle cut)
Generous pinch salt
Generous pinch ground black pepper
2 Tbsp light vegetable oil
3 Tbsp butter
600 g frozen pumpkin and cheese ravioli (or one with your favourite filling)
Extra salt to taste
A pinch hot red pepper flakes
A generous handful finely sliced spring onion (scallions)


Turn on pizza toaster and set timer at 15 minutes. If using conventional oven, preheat at 220 C (about 450 F)

Heat a heavy pan until very hot. While pan heats, season meat evenly with salt and pepper. Add oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to pan and when butter has melted, lower in loin. Sear until browned all around, turning every 30 seconds or so. This should take no more than 2 minutes.

Transfer meat to toaster or oven and pour all the hot fat over it. Close door and cook for about 10 minutes for medium rare and 15 minutes for medium. The times may seem short but if you've "dried out" your meat in the fridge like I did, these times are just right. For the given weight, I urge you not to exceed 15 minutes roasting. Try to get the middle cut of the loin as it's evenly thick from end to end and will cook uniformly. But if you can't manage it, just know that for 10 minutes, the thicker end will be medium rare with the thinner end tending to medium and for 15 minutes, the thick end will be medium and the thin end, medium well.

Remove meat from oven and rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Fill a very large pot with water and salt to taste. Bring to the boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add salt, red pepper flakes and spring onions. Toss well.

Slice meat across, allowing 3 or 4 slices per person. Spoon the roasting juices over or around meat and serve with the ravioli.


Drink with: Red Rioja, Tempranillo, Red Priorat, Pinot Noir or a simple Red Zinfandel. Tavel, a Rose wine from the Rhone Valley is worth a try as it's more structured and robust than most pink wines tend to be.