In these times of social distancing, when getting to a nice restaurant for a celebratory meal may not be feasible, this may be the recipe for you.
Our lives are very different today from even just a week ago, and I’ve heard the sadness when people post on social media about kids missing out on senior year experiences, family birthdays and other special occasions going un-celebrated because we cannot gather. But at least with your immediate household, if there is a special occasion that you want to celebrate, you can mark the occasion by preparing something that is a bit more than your regular dinner. You can take on the role of chef and create your own restaurant-quality meal!
I had planned to share this recipe before the recent changes in society. See, this last Valentine’s Day, Steve and I decided to stay home instead of going out to a nice restaurant like we usually do. But we still wanted to have more than just your regular dinner. So, I offered to try my hand at beef tenderloin with peppercorn cream sauce.
We’ve made beef tenderloin before, but I had never attempted to prepare it with a peppercorn cream sauce. When I suggested it, Steve said sure! He is always all in with my attempts to make something new.
I bought some filet mignon for this recipe. Since that is a pricey cut of beef, we only get it a couple of times a year. It is the cut of beef taken from the smaller end of the tenderloin and is one of my favorites. Although very lean, it cannot be topped for tenderness. And although the flavor is not as “in your face” as a ribeye, it is still an incredibly delicious steak.
Next I researched some recipes. And I discovered that although all had the the same basic structure, some had interesting variations.
I combined different ones and added a little trick of my own to create the recipe I share today. Let me tell you, it was SO yummy! Like “take your first bite and go ‘OMG, this is amazing!’ type of yummy”.
Given how simple and quick it turned out to be, I just knew I had to share it.
let’s make some beef tenderloin with peppercorn cream sauce
Take your steaks out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking.
Some recipes used onions. I prefer shallots because they caramelize to create a much more concentrated beefy flavor.
There were recipes that did not include alcohol. And there were a couple that suggested cognac, brandy or red wine. I have cooked with all of them before. And although cognac and brandy can often be interchanged, red wine has a very different and distinct taste. I knew we would prefer a sauce with cognac over red wine. Of course, you can exclude the alcohol altogether, but I think it gives the sauce an added level of richness.
And finally, almost all the recipes called for beef stock or broth. But what I love about the peppercorn cream sauces I’ve enjoyed in the past was that they were BEEFY in addition to being creamy. I wanted to make sure that my sauce was BEEFY too. So, instead of beef stock, I used beef consommé. And boy, did that do the trick!
Beef consommé is very easy to find. This is the one I use.
I believe that the beef consommé is what sets this peppercorn cream sauce recipe apart from others.
Start by cracking the peppercorns so that they are broken into smaller pieces that are easier to eat AND so that they release their yummy pepper taste.
Don’t pound them too finely. You just want a coarse crack over all of them so none are left intact.
Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides. Then, over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and half the butter and sear both sides of your tenderloin steaks. Sear one side until well caramelized, then flip to the other side.
The exact time to cook your steaks will be a function of how thick they are and what final temperature you prefer. Use a meat thermometer to achieve your desired level of doneness. Steve and I like our filet mignon medium-rare.
Once the steaks are seared, set them aside on a plate lightly tented with tin foil.
In the same pan, melt the remaining butter and add the shallots and cook until caramelized. About 1-2 minutes.
Then add the cracked peppercorns and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Stir in the cognac and the beef consommé and cook for a minute.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly stir in the cream. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. But don’t let it get too thick. The sauce should be creamy but pourable.
Then plate the steaks with your side(s) of choice and spoon the peppercorn sauce over the center and around the sides of your steak for a nice presentation.
We paired our beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce with some Italian roasted fennel. It was a great pairing.
Look how beautiful! And OMG, it is SO good!
Each bite of that luscious, melt-in-your-mouth tenderloin seasoned by the rich, layered, beefy and creamy sauce. Enhanced by the warm flavors of cracked peppercorns.
This recipe is a keeper! Simple, easy, yet producing amazingly complex flavors. So, feel like a chef at home and whip up this special occasion meal. As good as a fancy restaurant any day!
- 2 filet mignon steaks, about 2 inches thick, trimmed of silver skin and fat
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, separated
- ¼ cup shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons peppercorn blend
- ½ cup beef consommé
- ⅓ cup cognac
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking.
- Coarsely crack the peppercorn by placing them in a plastic bag and and pounding with a heavy object, such as a meat mallet.
- Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides.
- Heat a heavy skillet to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and half the butter. Then add the steaks.
- Sear the first side of the steaks well before flipping to sear the second side. About 4 minutes per side for medium rare. But use a meat thermometer to ensure your steaks are cooked to desired temperature.
- Remove steaks to a plate, lightly tent with tin foil, and set aide.
- To the same pan, add the remaining butter and caramelize the shallots, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the peppercorns and cook for another minute.
- Add the cognac and beef consommé and cook for another minute.
- Turn the flame down to medium-low and slowly stir in the cream. Cook for 3-4 minutes until thickened but still pourable.
- Plate the steaks and pour the peppercorn cream sauce over the center and around the sides for a nice presentation, then serve.