Take it from Sam Elliott and Han­ni­bal Lecter: You can’t go wrong with chateaubriand.

Let’s talk about meat and ser­i­al killers, shall we?

If you’ve seen the 2002 movie Red Drag­on, you might remem­ber how FBI agent Will Gra­ham vis­it­ed Han­ni­bal Lecter, picked up a cook­book in Lecter’s office, saw an entry about sweet­breads, then real­ized too late that Lecter was the ser­i­al killer he’d been look­ing for. 

That cook­book was Larousse Gas­tronomique, a 20-pound ency­clo­pe­dia of French cui­sine (which Lecter was using for a sweet­bread recipe, but instead of calf or lamb organs-—thymus or brains or pan­creas or whatever—-he served his guests an amuse bouche made from a tone-deaf flautist from the Bal­ti­more Symphony).

Larousse Gas­tronomique, which was writ­ten by a guy named Pros­per Mon­tag­né, says a chef named Mont­mireil cre­at­ed Chateaubriand in 1822, nam­ing it after his boss, the Vicomte François-René de Châteaubriand, who in turn was the French ambas­sador to Eng­land and who looked a lot like David Ten­nant, who played Doc­tor Who, all of which means that Sam Elliott can do voiceovers for beef com­mer­cials, which sell lots and lots and lots of beef.

L/R: The Red Drag­on; Will Gra­ham; Han­ni­bal Lecter; Pros­per Mon­tag­né; the Chateau de Mont­mireil in Can­isy, France, because I could­n’t find a pic­ture of Mont­mireil the chef; the Vicomte François-René de Châteaubriand; Dr. Who; and Sam Elliott, who can gen­er­ate a zil­lion dol­lars’ worth of beef sales every time there’s even a glimpse of his mus­tache in a com­mer­cial. Oh, and you can rent the Chateau de Mont­mireil for $668 a day.

Got all that?

Okay, good. So the point here is that Chateaubriand isn’t a recipe; it’s a cut of meat. Specif­i­cal­ly, it’s part of the ten­der­loin, aka the psoas major muscle.

This thing right here.

The psoas major does very lit­tle work, so it’s the most ten­der cut of beef. A num­ber of fan­cy cuts come from the ten­der­loin: Filet mignon; fil­let steak (for Beef Welling­ton); tourne­dos; the butt end, etc.

Chateaubriand is the cen­ter of the ten­der­loin; it’s usu­al­ly sold in one piece weigh­ing 12 to 16 oz. 

One Chateaubriand cut gen­er­al­ly serves two, so if you’re serv­ing more, just make more marinade.

  • Ingre­di­ents:
  • 1 Chateaubriand
  • 2–4 cups of soy sauce
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 12 oz. water
  • 2 tbsp. gar­lic powder
  • 1 cup fresh­ly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1–2 tbsp. black pepper


Com­bine ingre­di­ents and mar­i­nate 8 to 12 hours, turn­ing or bast­ing occa­sion­al­ly. Don’t throw the mari­nade or any juices out; save them for when it’s time to cook.

Pre­heat oven to 425°.

Put the meat on a roast­ing rack in a bak­ing dish. 

For rare, medi­um-rare or medi­um, respect­ful­ly, cook until the cen­ter is about 120°, 130° or 140°.

Cov­er loose­ly with foil; let rest for 15 minutes. 

If you’re feed­ing any unciv­i­lized bar­bar­ians who want it medi­um-well, or even (gasp) well done, take it out of the oven when it’s medi­um-rare any­way, then fin­ish the slices off in a skil­let with a lit­tle olive oil.

Cut into 1/4‑inch slices; cook a lit­tle more in a skil­let if need­ed, and serve.