- 4 (1 1/2-inch thick) beef tenderloin fillets
- 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cracker meal
- 11/2 teaspoon Essence 
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- Biscuits, for serving, optional
- Slice the tenderloin fillets crosswise in half into 3/4-inch thick medallions. Season the fillets lightly with salt and pepper.
- Combine 3/4 cup of the flour, cracker meal, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the Essence in a small, shallow bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and 1 teaspoon of the hot sauce.
- Dredge the beef medallions, 1 at a time, in the flour-cracker mixture and then dip in the buttermilk mixture. Dredge medallions again with the flour-cracker mixture, pressing to coat, and shaking off any excess flour.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet with 2-inch deep sides to 375 degrees F. (The oil should be about 1/4-inch deep.) Add the tenderloins to the preheated oil, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. It may be necessary to do this in batches. Pan-fry on the first side for 2 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the beef tenderloins and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until golden brown. The tenderloins should be medium at this point, or you can cook to the desired degree of doneness. Place the tenderloins on a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm while you make the gravy.
- Reserve 1/4 cup of the pan drippings in the skillet and discard the remainder. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to the mushrooms, and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly to keep from sticking. Bring the gravy mixture to a simmer, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Season the gravy with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, remaining 1/2 teaspoon Essence, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce. Serve immediately over split biscuits and chicken fried tenderloins.