This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner., managed by NCBA, on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.
It’s no doubt that this holiday season will look a little different. Many of us are staying home and having a small gathering with close family and are seeking ways to cook a special and especially delicious holiday meal for just a few people.
But no matter your plans or how you slice it, beef will make your holiday dinner feel special!
And boy do I have a delicious beef recipe to share that’ll make it a meal to remember! This beef Tenderloin with cranberry balsamic compote checks all the boxes.
It’s fancy but super easy to execute, it includes a smattering of holiday flavors and it’s nutritious and well-balanced (BONUS!).
Here’s how to make this extra special holiday meal
- Start with a high-quality cut of beef. I chose Tenderloin Roast for this recipe because it’s quick cooking, lean and is naturally tender (hence why it doesn’t need to be slow cooked). Because Tenderloin carries these qualities, it’s a popular choice for a holiday meal. If you don’t see Tenderloin Roast out in the meat display at your supermarket, ask the butcher or meat counter if they have it available.
- Pat the roast dry. Excess moisture will make it difficult to get a good sear. Once it’s dried off, season it generously with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Be sure to season all sides of the roast (even the ends!).
- Sear the roast. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or shallow cast iron pan. Once the oil is rippling, add the Tenderloin Roast and sear 2-3 minutes per side or until a light brown crust forms. Transfer it to a preheated 350 degree oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Once removed from the oven, the beef will carryover cook about 5 degrees, allowing it to reach the desirable 145 degrees once it’s sliced. Let it sit about 5 or 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Slice into rounds.
- Make the cranberry compote. While the beef roasts, toss cranberries, apples, dried cranberries, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, balsamic vinegar, orange zest and juice (fresh from the orange!) and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir it occasionally until it’s thickened like cranberry sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Serve! Serve the beef Tenderloin rounds with a heaping side of green beans and a large dollop of cranberry balsamic compote (even throw in a mound of cauliflower mashed potatoes, if you’re in the mood!). Your family will thank you for the fancy pants dinner that takes less than an hour to prepare!
- Make leftovers! If you’re cooking for just a few people and have leftover beef, save it, slice it and give it a quick stir fry with loads of veggies in a skillet and toss with soy sauce and sesame oil for an easy leftovers dinner.
Why beef should be the feature of your holiday meal
- Makes a nourishing, balanced meal. The holiday is a time for indulgence, but it’s also a time to celebrate seasonal eats that are nourishing AND delicious! That’s where this beef Tenderloin Roast with cranberry balsamic compote comes in.
- It’s full of beneficial nutrients. Beef contains high-quality protein, iron, zinc, choline and B vitamins. As a registered dietitian, the nutritional value of foods is super important to me, and beef fits the bill when it comes to being a nutritional powerhouse. It can help Americans avoid nutrient shortfalls across the lifespan, support healthy pregnancies; grow and develop throughout childhood; maintain strength, energy and vitality into adulthood; and age vibrantly and independently.
- It contains protein. Protein is important at every stage of the lifecycle, from childhood to older adulthood and just a 3-ounce portion of cooked lean beef (such a Tenderloin) provides about 51% of the daily value for protein.
- Supports a healthy weight. Beef can support a healthy weight because lean protein helps you feel full and satisfied long after your meal is over.
- It can support the immune system. Beef’s zinc content helps support a strong immune system, plus it’s a great source of heme iron, which is more easily absorbed in the body than plant foods (non-heme iron). And it’s an excellent source of vitamin B12.
- You can perfectly portion it. I suggest a 3-ounce portion paired with vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates, like whole grains. In this recipe, I paired beef tenderloin with a cranberry apple relish and sauteed green beans to make it a wholesome, nourishing meal!
- Find more ways to enjoy beef! Check out this guide from Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner for more holiday cooking tips and inspiration: https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cooking/holidays
As you can see, this beef Tenderloin Roast with cranberry balsamic compote checks all the boxes (and has the stamp of approval from a chef AND dietitian!). It’ll make for a special, unforgettable gathering with close family.
And you can show off your beef cooking chops!
Beef Tenderloin with Cranberry Balsamic Compote
Seared and roasted beef tenderloin with a simple cranberry, balsamic, ginger and orange compote.
- Prep Time: 15-20 mins
- Cook Time: 25-30 mins
- Total Time: 35-50 mins
- Yield: Serves 8 1x
- Category: Holiday, Main Dish
- Method: Stove-Top, Baking
- Cuisine: American
- 3-pound beef Tenderloin Roast, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- ¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
Cranberry Balsamic Compote:
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 medium honey crisp apple, cored and diced
- ¼ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar or honey
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Zest and juice of 3 medium oranges
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet to medium-high. Season the Roast on all sides with salt and black pepper. Place the Roast in the skillet and cook 2-3 minute per side, until the entire exterior has a browned crust.
- Place the thyme and rosemary sprigs in the oil next to the Tenderloin Roast and transfer to the oven. Roast 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads 140 degrees (the Tenderloin will carryover cook about 5 degrees to reach 145 degrees after being removed from the oven). Place aluminum foil over the pan and let rest 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, apple, dried cranberries, honey, balsamic vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, salt and orange zest and juice. Heat to medium and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cranberries burst and most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat and let slightly cool.
- Divide the Tenderloin Roast slices onto plates and spoon the herb-infused olive oil on top. Spoon cranberry balsamic chutney and serve with a side of cauliflower mashed potatoes and green beans. Serve immediately.
Cooking Tip: Leave the skin on the apple for easy prep.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
- Calories: 367
- Sugar: 19g
- Sodium: 380mg
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 11g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 23g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 38g
- Cholesterol: 89mg
Keywords: holiday, Christmas, entree, main dish, beef, cranberry