There is something about the word ‘steak’ that conjures up a feeling of a very good, rich meal; maybe it’s paired with lobster or crab, for certain it’s accompanied by a baked potato and some nicely roasted vegetable. Steak seems to be associated with affluence, a night out, a special occasion, a big expense.
When I was little my mother didn’t cook steak and did cook steak. Her version of a steak dinner was making fried liver with a side of our favourite steak sauce and passing it off as steak. I was really young. I bought the steak schtick. I just ate it. Liver was cheap back then and she was always deceived by my boney prepubescence into believing I was in desperate need of nutrition. Iron, I was always lacking in iron in her eyes and she could fix that by feeding me her version of steak. Fortunately for me she cooked liver perfectly, not overcooking it into a dry sawdust state and by the time I figured out that I was actually eating liver it was simply too late to protest and I realized that I liked it.
Summers when my kids were young I cooked steak, though it was never the better cut. It was generally the cheapest cut of meat and I would marinate it in a container in the fridge for about a week with lots of onions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, ginger ale or 7Up and a splash of oil to seal the whole concoction. I would let it sit there all week and on the weekend I would take the meat out and barbecue it, replenishing the stock for the following weekend. Yes, the cheap cuts of meat needed all that time to break down enough for us to be able to chew them.
Of course it didn’t help that my girls liked their meat overcooked, revolted at the sight of any juice on their plate. Even having marinated for a week once it was ‘well done’ it was chewy. But there was just something I loved about barbecuing steak on a hot summer day, the ease, the lack of cookware involved, the feeling of a meal out (side) instead of the drudgery that comes every so often with having to cater meals to two picky little girls. Wrapping a potato in foil and letting it sit in the oven was virtually mindless. It was a treat for me to cook those meals and sometimes I would indulge in a nice cold beer, sitting outside, while the kids played and ran through the sprinkler, waiting for the potatoes to bake before setting the steaks on, feeling like I was an adult even though I was poor and we were struggling and I couldn’t afford to take them out for a steak dinner.
We still eat steak frequently, it’s still the epitome of a great meal for me. The cut of meat has grown and evolved, I can actually afford and much prefer a much better cut of beef. As much as we pride ourselves on barbecuing throughout the winter some minus 40 days are just too big of a challenge for our barbecue to hold heat enough to cook steak. That’s a lie. We’re sucks. No one here wants to stand outside in that weather to actually barbecue a steak or anything for that matter when the weather is that cold. And even when it’s a good cut of meat nothing really beats the barbecue and we’ve been spoiled so that we don’t want to cook our meat stovetop. We’ve had to adapt to our first world problems.
Earlier I pulled out a piece of tenderloin from the freezer, I was craving a hearty beefy meal and once again it was much too cold to stand in the windchill and barbecue steaks. I scanned though the internet looking for something different to do with the fabulous but raw cut of meat that was waiting for me.
I drew inspiration from Dentist Chef and Becomingness and changed up the inside and outside a bit. I mixed whole allspice in with the peppercorns so that I could get the peppery crust without setting everyone’s mouth ablaze. The allspice has a similar texture to peppercorns but doesn’t pack the heat and once it’s all roasted and done, it’s amazing. I decided to ‘glue’ the peppercorn/allspice mixture to the roast with a mixture of Chardonnay mustard and honey hoping that if the peppercorns were still a little hot the sweetness would help to temper the burn. I stuffed my tenderloin with caramelized onions, spinach, slow roasted tomatoes (recipe in a previous post of mine) and chunks of gorgonzola cheese. Two of us at this house aren’t big fans of smelly or blue cheese but I have to say this worked so well. Everyone loved it… we’ll be doing this again!
Peppercorn Crusted, Stuffed BeefTenderloin
- I piece of tenderloin (denuded)
- enough kitchen string to tie the tenderloin 2 – 3 times depending on size
- 1 sliced and caramelized onion (pan fried in butter)
- Large handful of fresh spinach (enough to cover the base of the beef)
- 1/2 – 1 Cup slow roasted tomatoes (or sundried tomatoes)
- 1/2 Cup Gorgonzola Cheese chunks
- 2 Tablespoons mustard (whole grain preferably)
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 3 Tablespoons whole allspice
Slice and fry a whole onion in butter until nicely caramelized and set aside. And preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Slice your tenderloin, as evenly as possible, lengthwise and flatten it out. You can pound the meat lightly to get it as even as possible though the meat doesn’t really need a beating.
Layer ingredients on the length of meat leaving a bit of room on the edges to allow you to roll it up and not lose all the filling. Layer the spinach, caramelized onions, tomatoes and cheese chunks. Then have the kitchen string handy as you’re getting ready to roll the whole thing up and tie in a couple of places so that it stays together. ***I forgot when I made it, and seems I’m forgetting now, it’s a good idea to give the string a good soak in oil to allow you to take it off easier without pulling off the delicious crust when done.
Mix the honey and mustard in a bowl and microwave for just long enough so that the honey is melted and add in the oil.
Put the peppercorns and allspice in a plastic ziplock bag and crush coarsely with a rolling pin.
Coat the roast with the honey mustard mixture and then cover with the peppercorn mixture as evenly as possible. It’s a bit of a mess but don’t worry about that… it’ll be wonderful once baked. Place the roast on a pan covered in foil and sprayed with oil and bake for about 20 minutes on the middle rack.
You can bake this for as long as you wish, even well done tenderloin is soft and amazing though we like our meat medium at this house these days… yes even the kids…. they adapted their way of eating beef.