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Tenderloin with Cognac-Cream Sauce

We love to grill out on our deck but, let’s face it, some Texas evenings are simply too hot to make standing in front of a barbecue much fun. I came across this recipe from Williams-Sonoma, and it immediately became a favorite. Although most evenings I’m cooking for two, I don’t alter the recipe. My husband and I are fans of extra sauce, so we don’t mind the overage. This dish also plates beautifully. I usually serve it with a favorite orzo dish (recipe below) I found the recipe from a New York restaurant in an old magazine. It's the perfect at-home date night dinner.

For the Steak Rub

1 Tbsp. each paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, and dried rosemary

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground or course black pepper

4 beef tenderloin steaks

1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Sauce

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp. cognac

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup beef stock (8 ounces)

½ cup heavy cream

cayenne pepper

salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Rub:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, mustard, rosemary, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle the rub all over the meat, reserving 1 tablespoon.

  2. Let steaks stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature, if necessary, before cooking.

To Make the Steak:

  1. In a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the steaks and cook to the desired doneness, turning once, 3–5 minutes on each side.

  2. Test for doneness using a thermometer or by cutting into the meat. Remove the steaks from the heat when they are red at the center for rare (120﮿F) or deep pink at the center for medium-rare (130﮿F).

  3. Transfer the steaks to a platter and let rest, tent loosely with aluminum foil, while you make the pan sauce.

To Make the Sauce:

  1. In the same frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and parsley and sauté until the shallot is softened, 2–3 minutes.

  2. Remove the pan from heat and add the Cognac.

  3. Return to the heat and bring Cognac to bubbly hot. Whisk in the mustard, tomato paste, reserved 1 tablespoon of rub, and beef stock. Cook, whisking often, to reduce the sauce by half, 4–5 minutes.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream and cayenne to taste. Add any accumulated juices from the steaks. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

  5. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the steaks and serve at once. Pass any extra sauce at the table.

Truffled Orzo with Asparagus


1 bunch standard-size asparagus (you can substitute broccoli)

1 ½ cups orzo

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

½ cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. grated pecorino Romano

2 Tbsp. black truffle butter (Available at organic markets, such as Whole Foods) *

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

*You can make your own black truffle butter by combining 2 tablespoons softened (not melted) butter with ½ teaspoon black truffle oil. In a pinch, I’ve taken fresh sliced mushrooms and sautéed with butter, cooking until the mushroom fragrance is incorporated into the butter.


  1. In a 5-quart pot, bring salted water to a boil.

  2. Place washed asparagus in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove them with tongs and set aside, keeping the water boiling.

  3. Cook orzo in the same pot for 7 to 9 minutes to your liking. Drain in a colander and set aside.

  4. Trim the tough ends from the asparagus and discard. Cut remaining asparagus into ¼-inch thick slices and reserve.

  5. In a medium pan, heat oil, then sauté garlic until golden brown.

  6. Add asparagus and cooked orzo.

  7. Continue cooking orzo over low heat and add heavy cream and butter, stirring constantly.

  8. Add cheese and stir until they melt and combine.

  9. Stir in truffle butter, salt, and pepper.

Serves four.


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