I got an email a few months ago telling me about the Courvoisier Collective Challange. Courvoisier Cognac was looking for people to create recipes using their cognac, and then post them up on their site. It’s open to culinary students, and home chefs, in Ontario.
This is why I’m going to beg and plead for your help at the beginning of this post, before the recipe (but only for the next 3 days). Pretty pretty please, with a cherry on top, can you go to this website and vote. If you liked my steak, by all means, click away for me. If you didn’t, that’s ok too, because there are tons of fabulous recipes there that I’m sure will wet your appetite. You don’t need to make an account or anything, just enter your birthday (they need to make sure you’re older than 19), and click on your favorite recipe. That’s it.
Please, don’t just skim over the link, click it and make someone happy with a vote. How about I bribe you with something delicious in a couple of days… maybe a tart recipe? Or some sweet rolls?
The top 6 recipes (3 from home cooks, and 3 from students), get to go to Toronto for a cook off, and the winner of each walks away with $1000. How great is that!
Ok, on to the recipe.
It’s delicious. Make it for the in-laws if you hate them and really want to show up your mother-in-law, or if you really like them and want to give them a fabulous meal. If you use the beef tenderloin steaks though, make sure that you do either REALLY like or dislike them. These steaks are expensive. Feel free to swap out with some strip-loins (I got lucky and bought a whole tenderloin on sale, half of regular price, then butchered it myself, so keep your eyes open for those deals too).
First thing, get your steaks out (the big one on the right is totally mine, called it).
Generously salt both sides. And I mean GENEROUSLY. Now sit the steaks on paper towels and let them stay there for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour (I go with 1 hour). The salt will draw all the excess moisture to the surface. Before they hit the pan you’ll pat that moisture up with a paper towel, and it’ll help to give you a better crust on the outside of the meat from the sear. This is a great, easy, and important step for steaks!
While the steaks are resting, throw a bunch of peppercorns into a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, just throw them in a zip-lock bag and use a heavy pan to crush them.
All nice and crushed up.
Put the peppercorns onto a plate, and wait until the steaks are ready.
Peel some garlic cloves, and smash them. Just put one under the flat of your knife and hit it with a closed fist. I love doing this, it’s good for the aggression.
Now, toss a bunch of course salt onto it. I do a sprinkle of sea salt, and a sprinkle of kosher salt. That salt is going to help break down the garlic into a paste for us.
Slide the flat edge of your knife over the garlic, pressing down with the palm of your hand. Keep doing this over and over again until you’ve turned the garlic into a paste. It only takes a minute.
Get your herbs ready; some rosemary and some thyme.
Steaks are ready to go. Make sure to dry the tops of them with paper towel too.
Get some butter and extra virgin olive oil into a large cast iron skillet and melt it together over high heat. You want that pan scorching hot! I’d get the pan heated before adding the butter and oil, just to avoid browning the butter too much.
Press the top and bottom of each steak into the peppercorns. Don’t be shy here. Most of them will fall off during cooking, but you need that flavour in the pan!
The pan is ready to go!
Gently lay the steaks into the pan, and cook over high heat for 2 minutes on the first side to sear it.
Now flip them over and cook for 2 minutes on the second side to sear that too. Look at that delicious crust. I want to eat this again. Right. Now.
Once the two minutes are up on the second side, turn the heat down to medium-low and throw in a bunch more butter.
Then stir in the fresh thyme and rosemary, along with the garlic. You may notice the shallots. Those are not supposed to be there. I was debating using them in my potatoes, but got over zealous and tossed them into the pan with the garlic by accident. After this picture was taken I did a mad dash to get them out of the pan before they burnt and ruined my butter baste. At this point, you just slowly cook the steaks up to your desired done-ness (135ºF for medium-rare, 145ºF for medium, thanks to Reddit for pointing out my temps were wrong at first!). Turn them occasionally, and baste them with the pan liquid every so often. To get to medium you’ll be about 8 minutes, give or take.
When the steaks are about 5 degrees shy of your perfect temperature, get them out of the pan and onto a plate.
Tent the plate with foil, and let them rest while you make the sauce.
Get rid of all the pan juices, but do not scrap up the pan. We want all those stuck on browned bits from the steak. Those are flavour!
Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the Courvoisier cognac (I used V.S.). Now set it on fire. This is one of the most fun things you can do in cooking!
When the flames burn out, add the heavy cream.
Whisk it together until it thickens up enough to coat the back of a spoon. This’ll take less than 2 minutes.
Now pour in the steak juices that have accumulated on your plate, along with 1 tablespoon of Courvoisier cognac.
Whisk it up for one more minute until it thickens up again.
Now plate. I mean, come on, delicious! The outside has a nice, well formed crust; the center is perfectly pink; the sauce is full of depth and flavour, and perfectly balances out with the steak. Everyone couldn’t get enough of this. Bo was begging me to make it every night, and Oliver, my picky little guy, ate nearly half a steak all on his own. Even Anna ate some, and she only has 6 teeth, so she had to work for it.
Those carrots look incredible, and they smelled incredible while they were baking, but they were missing something. I want to tweak the recipe before I put it up. The potatoes though…well, they’re roasted garlic and parmesan potatoes… I’m guessing you’ll want that recipe too! Here it is: Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Potatoes
Here’s your printable:
- 4 beef tenderloin steaks, 1½" thick (or sub out with striploin steaks)
- 4 tbsp kosher salt
- 4 tbsp black peppercorns
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp Cognac
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Remove the steaks from the fridge, pat dry, salt generously on both sides, and let sit on paper towels for 30-60 minutes before cooking.
- While the steak is resting make a paste of the garlic. Sprinkle a generous amount of course salt on top of the smashed garlic, and using the palm of your hand on the flat side of a knife, slide the knife over the garlic repeatedly until a paste forms.
- Crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle (or heavy bottomed pan). Pat the rested steaks dry, and firmly press the top and bottom of each steak into the peppercorns.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp olive oil, and melt, stirring to combine.
- Gently place the steaks into the hot pan and sear over high heat for two minutes on each side.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining 3 tbsp of butter, garlic paste, thyme, and rosemary. Continue cooking the steaks, turning occasionally and basting with the pan liquid, until your desired doneness is reached (about 8 minutes for medium).
- Remove the steaks from pan and tent with foil to rest.
- Discard the liquid from the pan, but do not scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom.
- Place the pan over medium-high heat and add ½ cup cognac. Light the cognac with a match to burn off the alcohol. Whisk in the heavy cream, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour in the juices that have accumulated on the plate from the steaks, along with 1 Tbsp of cognac. Quickly stir until thickened again, about 30 seconds.
- Plate the steaks, topping them with a generous amount of sauce.