fat free opinions on a food centric life

Grilled Beef Loin with Green Peppercorn Sauce

For the last two years, we’ve been experimenting with roasting meat on our barbeque.  You know, roasting it as in it could have been in our oven roasting type roasting.  And there are some who would argue that because we have a gas grill, that’s not barbeque, but I gave up on that battle a few months ago.

Although we have a rotisserie on our barbeque, we most often use the method of roasting meat away from the flame.  We set it above a shallow pan to collect the juices, or sometimes filled with water, on the center rack.  Then we turn on the burners on either side of it, keeping a close eye on both the internal temperature of the meat, and under the hood of the barbeque.

The recipes I’ve tried vary:  marinated beef, pork pibil, herb crusted tenderloin…technically, the outcome is dependent upon temp — just like your oven.

The nice thing about cooking on the barbeque is that you don’t have to heat up your house.  Thankfully, we rarely need to turn on the AC here, but turning on my oven would make us want to.  Even though I know the hood can take care of the heat the oven puts off, turning it on would suck out any cool air the AC added.  Not exactly energy efficient!

And sometimes, salad just isn’t enough for the hot days of summer.

Hence — barbeque.

Our most recent experiment with roasting meat on the barbie was with a recipe from the June 2008 issue of Gourmet:  “Smoke-Roasted Pepper-Crusted Beef Top Loin with Green Peppercorn Sauce.”

Green peppercorns you say?  Well when you’re me, you’ve probably experimented with those, too.  In fact, you’ve probably looked for them in your favorite pay more than you want to grocery stores, but couldn’t find them.  You’ve called around to no avail, until you think of Williams-Sonoma.  And guess what?  They had them, so thinking you just may have another occasion in life to need green peppercorns, you purchase two cans.  Just.  In.  Case.

So yes, I had them.  The only problem with these lovely little things is that you don’t need more than a tablespoon or two.  The last time I used them, I stored the remainder in a baggie and put it in the fridge.  After a month or so, the brine took on a bit of a grey cast, and so they ended up in the trash.  There was no using that science experiment for our Father’s Day dinner, so I had to open my second can.  The remainder of that can is in the freezer.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll find out that I won’t have to waste the tasty beauties this time.

If you’ve never had them, when you look at them, you want them taste like capers.  After all they’re green, round, and small, right?  Um, no.  They’re not spicy, but they do taste of pepper if you can imagine that without the kick.  And yes, they taste of their own earthy briny flavor as well.

But what happens when you sauce a piece of tender and lovingly roasted meat with them?  After said piece of meat has been coated in a salty, black peppery crust?


Salt & Pepper-Crusted Beef Loin with Green Peppercorn Sauce

feeds 10-12 easily


2 4-lb beef loin roasts
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. freshly ground pepper (coarse)
3-4 T kosher salt

Sauce Ingredients

1 cup brandy
1/4 c. green peppercorns in brine, rinsed
2 c. beef stock
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 c. chopped parsley


  1. Mix the salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub the beef with the olive oil, then sprinkle on all the salt and pepper, taking time to press it into the meat on all sides so it will form a type of coating.
  2. Set both roasts on a baking rack set in a baking pan that will fit in your barbeque. Use the indirect heating method (meat will not be sitting directly over the heat source).
  3. Preheat barbeque to an internal temperature of 325 degrees F, and roast the beef until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of each roast registers 135 degrees F for medium rare, 145 degrees F for medium, and 160 degrees F for well done. (Please see notes below on this.)  This takes about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the roasts from the grill when done and cover with foil for about 15 minutes before carving.
  5. While the beef is roasting, make the peppercorn sauce.
  6. Bring brandy and peppercorns to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat until the brandy is syrupy, about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Add the beef stock and reduce the liquid by one third — about 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer until just thickened, about 20 minutes more.
  9. Turn the heat to low and add the butter in pieces, stirring to melt before adding another.
  10. Add the chopped parsley, season to your liking and serve by pouring over slices of the beef.

Recipe Notes:

  • When we began to experiment, we didn’t rely upon one source of information.  Yes, we considered the basic recipe we were using, but we also used information from grilling cookbooks with general guidelines for roasting meat on the barbeque, our oven cooking guidelines, and our handy-dandy talking thermometer’s guidelines which were much different than those given in the original recipe this time.
  • About the salt & pepper rub…we halved the recipe and it was still so salty that you had to avoid eating the part of the meat the rub was on.  This did not make me happy.  Strangely, the next day, the left overs weren’t as salty.  Did the seasoning settle in over night, or what?  We’ve had run-ins with salt & pepper rubs before and understand their concept, but this was a lot of salt.  So I’d say cut it down to a quarter unless you want to waste the meat the seasoning is on.
  • Why two roasts and not one?  There were none in the 6-8 lb. range which is what the original recipe called for.  Logic.
  • About the smoke…we have this little drawer that we fill with different kinds of wood that sort of smolders and fills up the barbeque with heavenly aroma of whatever it is — like mesquite, or hickory, or applewood, or…Now can I actually tell what kind of wood we burned for a particular roast?  No.  In fact, I probably couldn’t tell you whether there was any wood smoking during the cooking time.  But we still use it.  It gives my husband something to do while he’s watching the numbers on his thermometer.
  • And the green peppercorn sauce…well, it was quite delicious.  In fact, we’re going to give this recipe a go on steaks, with much less salt and pepper, and really pay attention to the sauce.  I just happen to have another quarter cup of green peppercorns in my freezer!

This was Father’s Day Saturday dinner.  Where’s the dessert?  And what did we have for Sunday breakfast?

You’ll have to wait for that…