FoodGirl and the kitchen

Seared Tenderloin with Black Pepper Cognac Sauce

Back when I worked in the restaurants, Saturdays were the busiest days of the week. And we, servers, were always ready and willing for our next hungry clients to make their way to our table.

On one particular Saturday our chef said that he had too many tenderloins and we, the servers, were responsible for, “selling the hell out of them”. The chef decided to call it the chateaubriand special for two.

It was interesting to see how the young couples shared the steak: the man delicately slicing a piece for his lady and taking a much larger one for himself. While her eyes clearly said she would inhale the entire steak, her tight red mini dress begged to differ. And she continued slicing up the steak in teeny tiny pieces, savoring every bite of the sauced up meat.

The other couples seemed to actually get livelier, when the main meal arrived. They both dove into the perfectly cooked meat wholeheartedly. The woman cut up the steak for her man and offered herself an equal part. They both relished every bite and mopped up the saucy goodness on their plates. The older couple seemed to get a bit more comfortable with each other. They were staying through dessert, ordering cappuccinos that kept them talking late into the night.

In the meantime, the younger couples quickly picked at their dessert and swiftly left… I always imagined the younger girl exhaling loudly and ripping off her spanx as soon as she got home. Immediately following, she would indulge in a large pizza and some much needed Ben and Jerry’s.

I am thankful and simultaneously proud that I was never that kind of girl. I was and am the kind of girl that eats her steak gleefully, while also taking down all the creamy sides that come along with it. A perfectly cooked steak is one of life’s many joys, and it is actually easier done than one would think.



1 beef tenderloin, center-cut, chateaubriand 2-2 ½ pounds
kosher salt
course black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided into 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup Cognac
1 shallot minced
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into a pan.
  3. Heat pan, until it reaches smoking point.
  4. Season the steak with kosher salt and black pepper liberally.
  5. Once the oil and butter mixture is at medium heat, place the meat and sear it on each side for a total of 12 minutes.
  6. Place pan into the oven and roast to an internal temperature of 120°F for rare, 16 to 20 minutes; or 125°F for medium rare, 22 to 26 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  8. In another pan add 2 tablespoons of butter and the shallots; allow sweating for 6 minutes. Do not allow the shallots to achieve any color.
  9. Add in cognac carefully while off the flame, allow for it to reduce by half. If you feel brave, tip the pan towards the flame and let the Cognac catch on fire. It is a pretty neat party trick.
  10. Once the flames have died down or the mixture has reduced by half, add in the heavy whipping cream and allow reducing until just thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
  11. Taste and season. Serve alongside steak and grind plenty of fresh black pepper.

Mila Furman

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