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story.lead_photo.caption Beef tenderloin in cognac sauce with French green beans. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Here's a special, quick and easy dinner that's perfect for this time of year. Beef tenderloin medallions cook in under 10 minutes, and the sauce takes only a few more.

Cognac is brandy named for the region in France where the grapes are grown. Brandy is a generic name and you can use any type for this recipe. You don't need to buy a large bottle. You can buy small bottles or splits (1.5 ounces) of cognac in most liquor stores.

Small French green beans are tender and sweet. They can be found in most supermarkets.

Helpful Hints:

You can use regular green beans if French green beans aren't available.

Any type of brandy can be used for the sauce.

Use a skillet that is just big enough to fit the steak in one layer. A bigger skillet with its larger diameter will cause the sauce to run over the pan and burn.

Countdown:

Prepare all ingredients.

While tenderloin cooks, microwave the beans.

Finish the tenderloin and sauce.

Shopping List:

To buy: 3/4 pound beef tenderloin cut into 1-inch slices, 1 small bottle cognac (or other brandy), 1 small container fat-free, low-salt chicken broth, 1 jar Dijon mustard, 1 container heavy cream, 1 whole wheat baguette, 1 can sweet pimentos and 1/2 pound French green beans and 1 can olive oil spray.

Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.

Beef Tenderloin

In Cognac Sauce

3/4 pound beef tenderloin cut into 1-inch slices

Olive oil spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces cognac

1/2 cup fat-free, fat-free, low-salt chicken broth

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 slices whole wheat baguette

Cut tenderloin into 1-inch slices. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil spray. Add beef slices. Brown 4 minutes and turn over. Brown the second side 5 minutes for medium-rare. An instant-read meat thermometer should read 145 degrees. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer for more well done. Divide between 2 dinner plates and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cognac to the skillet and deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits. Cook to reduce the cognac by half and add the chicken broth. Raise the heat to high and reduce the liquid by half, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard and stir well to blend into the sauce. Remove from heat and add the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over tenderloin. Serve with the baguette.

Yield 2 servings.

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

French Green Beans

1/2 pound French green beans (about 3-4 cups)

1/2 cup drained sweet pimentos sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place green beans in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 2 minutes. Remove and add pimento, oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Yield 2 servings.

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

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