Not everything is a tenderloin… this is where the skill comes into play.
Not the loin you were hoping for… but not a complete waste of time. The Mock Tender; A muscle found in the shoulder of the animal, pulled straight from the blade, may appear wildly similar to a tenderloin unfortunately the evidence of inferiority runs throughout the meat… Literally. The beautiful cut is cursed with a line of sinew running end to end. “Why would someone go through the trouble of using such a cut?” an innocent gourmand may ask. Well the answer is quite simple; Money. Cash is king in the world that we find our selves creating all around us. as the price of beef ski rockets… the temptation of a knockoff is always lurking as a quick fix. in the other hand learning to handle these cheaper cuts is a skilled trade, almost a testimony to a chefs credibility. Anyone can cook a tenderloin; it takes a chef to handle the undercuts. This cut came to me through the exploration of the different cuts I was stumbling across daily in the butchery. The trick in cooking the Mock tender, also known as shoulder tender or clod tender, is a long marinade, very low heat, slow braise or roast if possible allowing adequate time to allow the acidity in your marinade to breakdown that connective tissue. If cooked properly, the cut can become quite an enjoyable feast.
I sat the “loin” in a spiced pinot noir marinade over night. In the morning I removed the cut from the marinade reserving the liquid to make a sauce later. I seasoned the flesh generously in toasted Black peppercorns and Kosher salt, keeping it simple. I roasted loin, nestled in a bed of herbs and garlic, in an oven set to 200°F for an hour. My apartment filled with the fragrance of sheer mouth watering ecstasy. In first taste, the flesh was delicious, rich, robust, clean, scrumptious. The bite, (referring to the mouth feel) is apparent, its not the most tender cut in the world but could be compared to gnawing on a fatty or unclean strip loin. On the matter of tenderness I would put at somewhere of a 5, tenderloin being a 1 and a piece of brisket (under cooked) being a 10.
The dish is a Bison Clod Tender, Celery Root Puree, Cannellini Ragout, Celery Ribbon, Peppered Pinot Reduction. A dish that hits those warm high notes that we are in such dire need of in the savagery of this winter.