1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 pounds center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed of all fat and silver skin
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 sprigs fresh watercress

In small bowl, combine molasses, vinegar, pepper, garlic, shallot, ginger, thyme, and pepper flakes, and pour over beef in glass dish. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 24 hours, turning meat occasionally.

Remove meat, reserving marinade to glaze meat and for smoked-bacon compote (see recipe, below). Cut meat into 8 medallions and season with salt.

Heat oil in large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Brown medallions 3 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on other side, or until desired doneness. Just before removing beef, add 4 tablespoons marinade to skillet and very quickly glaze both sides of meat. Serve with compote, garnished with watercress. Serves 4.

Smoked-Bacon Compote

1/2 cup marinade reserved from previous recipe
1 cup veal demiglace
1 cup smoked slab bacon cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups wild mushrooms, such as brown Italian or shiitake, cut to about size of pearl onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sweet-potato balls (prepare with melon baller before cooking)
1/2-3/4 cup pearl onions, peeled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup glazed pecans (see recipe, below)
Salt to taste
Fresh lemon juice to taste

Place marinade in saucepan over medium heat and reduce by half. Add demiglace and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce coats back of spoon. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Render bacon in sauté pan over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain and set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in sauté pan over medium heat and cook mushrooms 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium ovenproof saute pan over medium heat. Add sweet-potato balls and pearl onions and cook 3 minutes. Stir in sugar and vinegar and cook another 2 minutes, then put pan in oven and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from oven and add reduced marinade mixture, bacon, mushrooms, and glazed pecans. Stir and season with salt and lemon juice; serve with beef tenderloin.

Glazed Pecans

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 dried red chiles
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine water, sugar, and chiles in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add pecans and return to a boil. Lower hear and simmer 10 minutes.

Drain pecans, place on cookie sheet, and bake 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pecans from oven, pour into small bowl, and stir in molasses. Place on fresh cookie sheet and bake another 45 minutes until very crisp. Do not burn.

Recipe from A Texas Style Christmas Feast Meets West. Texas Monthly, December 1992.