Five Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin

January 3rd, 2020


I am constantly struggling with my vegetarian status.  When I was thirteen, I swore off meat completely.  The next year, I started boarding school, and four years later, I went to college, so it was never difficult to remain a vegetarian when the vast majority of my meals were prepared in a dining hall.  And after nine years, vegetarianism was firmly ingrained in my eating habits, and it still is.  But a year ago, when I started training for my first marathon, I decided to add turkey to my diet just to make sure I was getting protein to build enough muscle to get me through the race.  And after the marathon was over, I kept eating turkey for a little while because, well, I liked it.

Within a few months, though, I gave up meat again.  I found that I had become quite attached to my ‘vegetarian’ title, and I just couldn’t reconcile eating turkey and still calling myself a vegetarian (go figure).  Since then, I’ve been a wishy washy vegetarian, never hesitating to taste a bite of a friend’s beef or chicken dish in a good restaurant, but never ordering or preparing it myself.  I created an exception for when I was traveling, because who wants to go to China and never try Beijing duck or xiao long bao?  Or visit Budapest without eating goulash?  Jamaica without jerk chicken?  No thanks.  My favorite part of traveling is experimenting with local specialties, and trying to be a vegetarian in a foreign country is like trying to diet on vacation, and who wants to do that?

In the end, I’ve concluded that vegetarianism is like anything other dietary choice.  If not eating meat is something that matters to you, following it 95% of the time is a whole lot better than nothing.  And, more importantly, you save a lot of mental anguish by accepting that and not faulting yourself for that serving of turkey on Thanksgiving, or a piece of (this) delicious beef tenderloin on Christmas.

Five Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin

1 beef tenderloin (about 5 pounds)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons coarsely ground 5-peppercorn blend
12 fresh large sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Rub the outside of the tenderloin with olive oil. Slather the mustard in a thin layer over the tenderloin. Sprinkle the peppercorn blend evenly over the meat.  Place the sage leaves in a row down the center.  Season with additional salt as desired.
3. Place the beef in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour, or until internal temperature is 135 degrees for medium rare. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.

Yield: 10 servings

Tags: food · main dishes

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Diet » Five Peppercorn Beef // Jan 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    […] Here’s another interesting post I read today by sugarlaws […]

  • 2 Deborah // Jan 2, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t think I could ever be a vegetarian – but I admire those that are!  This beef sounds delicious!

  • 3 Az Azura // Jan 2, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I adore any meat with peppery taste, this looks very tempting yum, yum. I was a vegetarian too!

    btw, Thank you for dropping by my blog , I like yours !

  • 4 Ann // Jan 2, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    At some point I concluded that I was always going to be an occasional meat eater.  I figure the fact that I don’t have meat every day is good enough. Or as good as I am going to get. Love the look of your roast!

  • 5 MrsPresley // Jan 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    i’ll bet the peppercorns gave it a great flavor! this looks mouth watering good 🙂

  • 6 Karyn // Jan 2, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I like your healthy attitude about being vegetarian – I’m pescetarian, so I sometimes eat fish. I’ve already decided that if I travel, I’ll go on a case-by-case basis. I’ve never been one to enjoy a hunk of meat, but I’d try beef in Argentina or guinea pig in Peru. I’d just have a lot more fun trying the produce you can’t find in the US!

  • 7 manggy // Jan 2, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks for dropping by my blog 🙂 Anyway, I’m glad you did not develop severe indigestion from these little side-nibbles of meat! Adaptation is a crazy thing. But you still have these cravings, so I guess your body has not yet fully rejected them, haha 🙂 I don’t think I can handle the stress of being a vegetarian. It’d probably be like entering an Italian mama’s household and refusing the food for every single meal.

    You certainly have not lost your sense for preparing meat well. This looks excellent!

  • 8 katy // Jan 2, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Deborah — thanks!!!

    Ann — that’s how I feel too, although it’s usually more like once every two or three weeks.  It’s no fun wasting time feeling guilty over!

    Karyn — I agree!  Mostly I still east vegetarian when I’m in other countries, but I make sure to try pretty much everything. 🙂

    Az Azura, Mrs Presley and Manggy – Thanks!

  • 9 Sarah // Jan 3, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I was raised vegetarian and still eat that way.  You will be hard pressed to find much meat in my house.  But I do love some steak every once in a while.  Everything in moderation, I guess.  I have never tried to make a tenderloin, but yours looks yummy…I will have to try it!

  • 10 jeena // Jan 3, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Hi there your blog is amazing!  This beef looks so delicious it is making me hungry.  🙂

  • 11 shana // Jan 4, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    wow, i was having (nearly) those same exact thoughts this past month!  i even wrote about it too!

    (sorry if that link didn’t work)

    anyhoo, i also believe that something is better than nothing. but i’m sad to say that i was in budapest this summer and because i was still being the good veggie i did *not* have any goulash! oh well, just a nice excuse to go back 🙂

  • 12 Ellie // Jan 6, 2008 at 7:01 am

    The beef sounds quite good, though I have to admit that I’m a bit confused by the 5-peppercorn blend? I’ve only ever seen black, white and pink ones :/

  • 13 Sorina // Jan 6, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    wow! that is too tempting am so making this soooooon

  • 14 katy // Jan 7, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Sarah — exactly.  I still prefer poultry to beef, but as long as it’s only a once-in-a-while thing, I don’t stress too much about it.

    Jeena — thanks!

    Shana — yes, I think we are exactly on the same page.  And you should definitely go back to Budapest now!  Great excuse. 🙂

    Ellie — I had to google this actually, because my mother literally had a spice called “five peppercorn blend” when we made this.  Apparently it consists of white, black, pink, green and “Jamaican” peppercorns (I think these are hot peppercorns, the fifth peppercorn is a little hard to pin down specifically).  You can buy the blend on the internet (I found it at, or I’m SURE you could just use a mix of black, white and pink instead.

    Sorina — thanks!!!

  • 15 Eva // Jan 8, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    During my childhood I didn’t eat meat and would get a crying fit if my parents wanted to have veal (after all, I visited the calf every evening when buying our daily milk ration). However, at some point I discovered “Wiener Schnitzel” and that got me started… Although I could never call myself a vegetarian, I try not to eat meat too often. But I’d make an exception for your beef tenderloin!

  • 16 » Blog Archive » Peppercorn — Oh Yum! // Jan 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

    […] Here’s the recipe: […]

  • 17 Taste and Tell | Mega Bad Photo Sunday | Taste and Tell // Mar 2, 2014 at 11:01 am

    […] Pork Tenderloin, because it uses sage, and I’ve got lots of that right now!! I found the original recipe at Sugarlaws, but changed it to a pork tenderloin instead of a beef tenderloin. We actually had […]

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