- 1 (4-pound) beef tenderloin
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
- 1/2 cup demi-glace or dark stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons jarred green peppercorns, drained
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels and sprinkle all sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper – you should see the seasoning on the meat.
- Place a large skillet or roasting pan over medium-high flame, drizzle with the oil, and just when it begins to smoke lay the tenderloin in the hot pan.
- Brown on all sides until a crust forms and the meat is well-seared, about 7 minutes total.
- Toss the fresh thyme and rosemary on top of the tenderloin and transfer the whole thing to the oven;
- roast for 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare.
Remove the tenderloin to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
- Pour off the excess fat from the pan and put it back on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add the shallots to the pan drippings, saute, stirring with a spoon to scrape up the flavors in the bottom.
- Take the pan off the heat and pour in the cognac (premeasure – never pour directly from the bottle!)
- Put the pan back on the heat and tilt it slightly over the burner to ignite the alcohol, or light with a kitchen lighter.
- The cognac will flame for a few seconds then go out as the alcohol burns off.
- Stir in the demi-glace and cream, simmer for about 1 minute to thicken the sauce so it coats a spoon.
- Finish the sauce by stirring in the mustard and peppercorns until incorporated.
- Taste and season with salt, if necessary.
- pile the watercress on a serving platter, cut the tenderloin into 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange it on top of the greens.
- Drizzle the sauce over the beef and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Serve the steak au poivre with pommes frites