Green peppercorn sauce...


Two very good friends from my days in Tulsa, OK, Dennis Gaffke and his wife, Peggy, decided to retire to the hills of Tennessee after Dennis sold his company sometime in the mid-1990s.  At their invitation, I decided to venture down from Pennsylvania to the outback of Tennessee to visit Dennis and Peggy for a couple of days over the New Year's holiday.  (That's quite a story in itself because Dennis and Peggy had also invited another couple from Tulsa who were good friends, Jerry and Marilyn Matulis.  It was three full days of laughing and partying hearty from early in the morning until late at night!)

Dennis loves to cook and is a very good cook.  He once made a killer duck with a red raspberry sauce that was "to kill for"!  It was during this New Year's holiday trip, however, that Dennis taught me how to make this excellent sauce.

The green peppercorn sauce takes several hours to make, but it is well worth being patient and taking the time to simmer this sauce slowly to 40% of its original content (and with no cover on the sauce pot).  Just stir occasionally and the flavor just continues to grow until the sauce is perfect.  In addition, the sauce thickens as it cooks down, so don't worry if it looks a bit soupy at the onset.

Interestingly, Dennis' recipe calls for using four button mushrooms but I like to use crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms...and I use eight (or maybe even ten) rather than four mushrooms to add depth of flavor.  Good green peppercorns and shallots, too, are essential as is the whipping cream and good brandy.  Don't skimp on using quality ingredients for this sauce.  I purchase my green peppercorns online from Penzy's spices.

Dennis used this sauce for beef tenderloin and it was a homerun for that particular cut of beef.  Having made and used this sauce on different meats and using different preparations for them, my suggestion is not to grill the beef on an outdoor grill because the BBQ flavor will detract from the richness of the green peppercorn sauce.  An indoor grill pan works great and has the same effect of producing those great-looking sear lines on the meat.  Over the years, I've found this sauce also goes nicely with pork chops, venison, and elk.  I've never used it for chicken, but I think it would go very well on a chicken cutlet.

For the meal below, I used elk tenderloin which a neighbor up the street brought home from a hunting trip in North Dakota.  His wife won't allow game meat to be cooked in the house, so I get all of the fresh elk and venison he brings home from his hunting trips.  I cook it and then deliver packages for him to eat at lunch.  This guy also loves to fish in the Atlantic Ocean.  He once brought me four sides of freshly caught Atlantic sea bass that I butchered into sea bass steaks.  I wrapped them individually in freezer wrap and had sea bass for almost one year.  Imagine what that would have cost at a good fish store!  The poor dear...she doesn't know what she is missing!

The preparation for this meal was minimal because I had the green peppercorn sauce ready and on hand.  I dressed the elk in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and then pan grilled the tenderloins until they were rare.  To serve the dish, I plated two pieces of tenderloin atop buttered Kluski (Polish!) noodles.   I should have put freshly chopped parsley on the noodles, but alas, I forgot.  Lastly, I dressed the elk tenderloin with the green peppercorn sauce.  Even though the meat is red, I served a Chardonnay because of the cream base in the sauce.  The salad was a romaine salad with an apple cider vinaigrette (made with mayonnaise, sour cream, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and Tabasco sauce).



Three tips:

  1. If you are in a hurry like I found myself once with visitors coming and not enough time to get something really good going, I've figured out a way to make a "faux" green peppercorn sauce.  Replace the mushrooms with Campbell's condensed cream of mushroom soup and double all of the other ingredients (except the cream).  Follow the directions and reduce the sauce to one-half of its original.  Add only enough cream to make the faux green peppercorn nice and will see the sheen.  The faux sauce is not as good as the real thing, but it's not bad at all for putting something together for guests at the last minute.
  2. Or, better yet, you can double the recipe for the green peppercorn sauce and freeze it for future use.  I've found that it keeps forever in the freezer and warms up as if you had just made it fresh.  Remember: slowly warm it up so that you don't ruin the cream!
  3. Depending upon whether you want to showcase the mushrooms or not, you can use a hand blender to purée the sauce.  Sometimes guests are finicky about mushrooms.  Just call the puréed sauce a "green peppercorn sauce" and don't mention the mushrooms.  But be sure to check first that no one is allergic to mushrooms!



Like the idea?  Here's the recipe:



Want to go back to The Motley Monk homepage?  Click on the button: