Grill Love: Cocoa Balsamic Sauce Does Double-Duty

K.I.S.S.  No, not the smoochy kind… more along the lines of keeping it simple.  That is exactly what this Cocoa Balsamic Sauce will do for you this Valentine’s Day – first served with an elegant main course of Châteaubriand and then drizzled over fresh strawberries and raspberries for dessert.  The sweet tanginess of reduced balsamic vinegar syrup with a hint of cocoa is a perfect match up with both courses.  

Châteaubriand is actually a recipe (one that we are straying away from) and not a cut of meat.  The dish, named after 19th century French statesman named François Châteaubriand, is a center cut of beef tenderloin (the same part of the meat used for filet mignon) that is grilled for two and served with Béarnaise sauce.  This dish serves four, but save some for fantastic sandwiches or a steak salad.

chateaubriand-with-cocoa-ba

Châteaubriand with Cocoa Balsamic Sauce

Serves 4

2 pounds center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme

For the Cocoa Balsamic Sauce:
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold cut into four pieces

Extras:
Butcher’s twine

Grilling method:
Direct heat

Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator about an hour before you are going to cook.  If you beef didn’t come from the store or butcher already trimmed, then remove most of the visible fat and tie with cotton butcher’s twine every couple inches so that the roast holds it’s shape.  Blend together the salt, pepper, and thyme and then season the beef on all sides, including the ends.  Set aside.

For the Cocoa Balsamic Sauce:  Add vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil and reduce it in half.  Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the cocoa powder and salt until combined.  Add the butter a couple pieces at a time and stir constantly until all the butter is incorporated.  Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.

Set up your grill with both high and medium heat zones. Sear the beef on all sides for 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Move the beef to the medium heat and cook on all four sides for another 4 to 5 minutes per side (about 25 to 30 minutes total) or until the internal temperature reaches 125°F for medium rare (remember that the temperature rises another 5°F to 10°F while resting).  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes tented with foil.

Slice off two beautiful filets (dinner for two) and save the remaining piece for fantastic sandwiches or dinner salad the next night.  Serve immediately with a spoonful of warm cocoa balsamic sauce alongside mashed potatoes (or cauliflower puree) and bright green al dente green beans with brown butter.

berries-with-cocoa-balsamic

Fresh Berries with Cocoa Balsamic Drizzle

Fresh raspberries and quartered strawberries drizzled with a some cocoa balsamic sauce.  Whipped cream would be delicious with this as well!  Or set out a beautiful bowl of plump long-stemmed strawberries with bowls of cocoa balsamic and whipped cream and dip your way into…  well, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers and Happy Grilling!
-Jeff

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