Beefing Things Up

Today is February 28, the last day of the month for the no grocery shopping challenge, so we’re down to the dregs of the pantry.  Pretty much only beans, pasta and peanut butter left.   And of course jar after jar of last summer’s tomatoes.  The freezer is still plenty full (that being “plentiful” with a Southern twang) so tonight is Cognac-Marinated Beef Tenderloin from Cooking Light and steamed broccoli from Birdseye.  I don’t know anything about cognac.  I don’t drink it so I don’t keep it in the house.  Undaunted I went on the web to see if I could substitute brandy.  (Isn’t it odd how we’re willing to accept guidance from people we’ve never met, who post random bits of advice, on web sites we’ve never heard of)?  Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, brandy it is.  I don’t drink brandy either, but it makes a wonderful addition to cream sauce for pasta and mushrooms so I keep it around. 

So, I substituted brandy for cognac and a small yellow onion for the shallots.  The flavor will be stronger than shallots, but you have to make do sometimes.  I also had to use dried herbs so I only used 1/3 of  the amount the recipe called for.  I like my beef on the rare side so I cut the cooking time just a touch. The brandy marinade gives the beef just a hint of sweetness.  To balance the sweet serve with whatever version of horseradish cream you like to make.  I use equal parts sour cream and plain yogurt, prepared horseradish to taste and just a touch of salt.
For the broccoli I used a bag of Birdseye Steamers broccoli florets. The bag recommends 5-6 minutes, but 4-5 is more to my liking. A perfectly acceptable substitute for fresh steamed, especially when the fresh is expensive and/or being imported from a far off land. Still, how excited will I be to go grocery shopping this week?! 

Good? Absolutely.
Easy? Definitely.
Good for company? Yes. People love a good beef roast. You can put it in before cocktails and it will still have time to rest before you serve.
Special shopping? Maybe. Be sure you have a good piece of beef or it won’t make pretty slices. 

Cognac-Marinated Beef Tenderloin


1 (2 1/2-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/3 cup cognac (or brandy)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray

To prepare tenderloin, secure tenderloin at 1-inch intervals with twine. Combine tenderloin, shallots, and the next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Shake to coat tenderloin evenly with cognac mixture. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Remove tenderloin from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle tenderloin evenly with salt. Place tenderloin in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 40 minutes or until medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Cut tenderloin crosswise into thin slices.

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