We recommend: "Cook's Illustrated Meat Book" (America's Test Kitchen, $40)
What’s special: A panoply of proteins — including beef, pork, poultry, lamb and veal — get the exhaustive scientific treatment from the Cook’s Illustrated crowd.
With explanations of techniques and very deliberately worded recipes for simple cuts and composed dishes alike, this book is an invaluable reference work.
Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Roast
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
9 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely cracked black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 (6-lb.) whole beef tenderloin, trimmed, tail end tucked and tied at 2-inch intervals
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine salt, sugar and baking soda in a bowl; set aside. Heat 6 tablespoons oil and peppercorns in small saucepan over low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Using a fine-mesh strainer, drain cooking oil from peppercorns. Discard oil and mix peppercorns with remaining 3 tablespoons oil, orange zest and nutmeg.
Set tenderloin on sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over surface of tenderloin and rub into tenderloin until surface is tacky. Tuck tail end of tenderloin under about 6 inches to create a more even shape. Rub top and side of tenderloin with peppercorn mixture, pressing to make sure peppercorns adhere. Transfer prepared tenderloin to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, keeping the tail end tucked under.
Roast until thickest part of meat registers about 120 degrees (for rare) or about 125 degrees (for medium-rare; thinner parts of tenderloin will be slightly more done), 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to carving board and let rest 30 minutes.
Remove twine and slice meat into half-inch-thick slices. Serve.