PEPPERCORN-CRUSTED BEEF TENDERLOIN
With Creamed Summer Corn & Blackberry Reduction
In this dish, peppercorns are steeped in oil to soften their bite. At the peak of their season and naturally sweet, white and red kernels are used for the creamed corn, which offers sweet relief from the spice of the peppered beef. Blackberries are used for the reduction instead of wine or balsamic to keep this dish summery and fresh.
INGREDIENTS Serves 8
For the tenderloin
¼ cup black peppercorns
8 six-ounce beef tenderloin steaks, 1½ inch thick, trimmed if necessary
1 bunch watercress, washed and dried
For the creamed corn
6 ears sweet white corn, shucked
2 ears sweet red corn, shucked
2 medium limes, zested, zest and juice reserved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
small pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
For the blackberry reduction
1 pint fresh blackberries, washed
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
For the Tenderloin
Put the peppercorns in a small saucepan, cover them with 1½ cup canola oil, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let the peppercorns steep in the oil for one hour. Drain the peppercorns and reserve the oil for another use. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar or pedestal, or with the bottom of a heavy pan. Coat both sides of the steaks and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
For the Creamed Summer Corn
Using your chef’s knife and working over a large bowl, cut the kernels off of the cobb by slicing downward. Tip: For easier, cleaner kernel slicing, invert a small bowl in the bottom of your large bowl used to catch the kernels. Stand the bottom of the cobb on the inverted bowl and slice kernels downwards from there. The kernels will fall neatly into your large work bowl instead of ending up all over your kitchen counter. Use the back of your knife to scrape out any residual kernel flesh and juice.
In a large sauté pan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the corn and about 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the corn until all of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. You will know when all of the liquid has evaporated when your corn begins to sizzle. Stir in the heavy-cream, lime zest and cayenne pepper. Continue to cook the mixture until the cream is absorbed by the corn about 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook your corn mixture or else the cream could break. Season to taste with salt. Keep warm until ready to serve and stir in your chives right before you’re ready to plate.
For the Blackberry Reduction
In a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, combine the blackberries, sugar, black peppercorns, a pinch of salt and champagne vinegar. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until the blackberries begin to break down. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Strain out the solids and reduce again by half. Swirl in the cold butter and season with salt to taste. Remove to a plastic squeeze bottle and reserve for service.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Set a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Heat some oil in 2 large ovenproof frying pans over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the steaks with kosher salt. Add four steaks to each pan without crowding. Sear for 1½ to 2 minutes on each side, until richly browned. Transfer to the rack.
Transfer the steaks to the over and cook for about 18 minutes, or until the center registers 125° - 128°F. Remove from the oven and allow for the steaks to rest on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes.
Serve one piece of tenderloin on a warmed plate with a ramekin of creamed corn. Garnish the beef with a small bunch of watercress that has been lightly dressed with the peppercorn oil. Garnish the plate with a drizzle of the blackberry reduction. Serve immediately while still warm.