Small Wonders

Beef tenderloin steaks remind us of everyday miracles

My mom was a person who loved celebrations. Big ones, definitely, but also the small, everyday ones that give life rhythm. I remember celebrating earning a Girl Scout badge, my first bike ride without training wheels, the anniversary of my dad’s release from the service and the Kentucky Derby, which involved quarter betting. What nice memories these are.

In that spirit, March seems a month to celebrate small things. Maybe it’s a good tennis match, a better-than-usual grade on a spelling test, or a day with a little sun and the promise of spring in the air. These beef tenderloin steaks with mustard-cognac sauce will mark a day as special. It’s a recipe that continues the tradition started by Mom that keeps my feet firmly grounded, by reminding me to have gratitude.

RECIPE: Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Mustard-Cognac Sauce


Six 7- to 8-oz beef tenderloin steaks (each about 1 1/2 inches thick)
Coarse kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup cognac or brandy
2 tablespoons tawny port
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Sprinkle steaks on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add steaks and sear until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 3 tablespoons butter, garlic, thyme, and rosemary to skillet. Cook steaks to desired doneness, turning occasionally and basting with pan juices, about 12 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to small rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven.

Pour contents of skillet into small bowl. Return 3 tablespoons drippings from bowl to same skillet and place over high heat. Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes. Add cognac and port and stir 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits. Add broth and boil until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 12 minutes. Whisk in Dijon mustard, then remaining 3 tablespoons cold butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Arrange steaks on plates, whisk any accumulated juices from baking sheet into sauce. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

Serves 6.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Nancy Lynch is a self-taught cook from a family of foodies. She teaches cooking classes at Orange Tree Imports and All Through the House in Stoughton. E-mail your questions, comments or recipe requests to

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