Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tip #5: Tenderloin-a-Palooza

"Palooza" is totally overused and even a bit pop-archaic at this point, but what can I say? It's the perfect word for all of the beef tenderloin sales going on right now.

I always go a little overboard for Christmas dinner. My husband kind-of expects it (and he's a great guy, so I hate to disappoint), and I feel like I can show off a little, especially since I have so little involvement in Thanksgiving dinner (see this post here: Don't get me wrong -- I'm not pulling recipes from Food & Wine or the Alinea cookbook here -- my family likes the basics, just gussied up a bit. So I always make a beef tenderloin.

My husband's family always had beef tenderloin at his Aunt Rosie's house every Christmas, a tradition I was more than happy to get on board with once I started making the holiday feast each year. But we all know that times are tight and absolutely everyone is tightening purse strings (and if you're not, hello! Come on, it's time to watch the bucks a bit), so I decided to forgo this deliciousness this year. Last Christmas, beef tenderloin was running $13 a pound, which meant a little under a hundred bucks for the average size of un-trimmed meaty goodness at Costco. Yummy? yes. Budget-saavy? No way.

Folks tend to freak out a little when confronted with a big, nasty, un-trimmed tenderloin, especially when it's so expensive, but it's really a super-snap to trim. If you need a little help, let me know and I'll steer you to some resources or even talk you through that baby myself. Anyway...

Last week, as I was powering through Costco, we were at $9.99 a pound, up a buck from a few weeks prior, but still a relative bargain from last year. They even have a trimmed option for all of you fraidy-cats for $16.99 a pound (soooooo not worth it IMHO).

Then, a few days ago, I'm hitting Sam's Club (I actually like it quite a bit and the prices are a little lower than Costco's, plus they have early morning business hours AND it's not quite as crowded) and they've got tenderloin for $8.88/pound. Back through Costco tonight, and it's dropped to $9.09/pound.

The bottom-line is this: If you're looking for a mild splurge and really just want to have a good chunk of beef that you can't rationalize spending that kind of money on any other time of year, spend the $50 or so it will cost for the tenderloin and have a wonderful meal this Christmas.

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