Remember that Iceberg Wedge Salad from last week? Keeping with the whole retro dinner idea, I knew that a big juicy steak would be the second course. I had some lovely grass fed strip steaks that cost me a small fortune. Wanting to keep Dear Daughter in the kitchen after her recent successes, I asked her what she liked with steak. Not quite the answer I was looking for, but she indicated that she liked a sauce with steak. Wait, no potatoes? "Well, I like any sort of potatoes, but I really like a sauce with steak," she clarified. "Let's make a sauce and scratch potatoes. The salad will be the starter and we will have a Friday night, Steak Night."
Steak au Poivre is basically peppercorn steak. How you make the steak is fairly uniform. However, there are many different recipes for the the sauce. Some call for cream; some do not. Some call for cognac. Some indicate cognac or bourbon or even red wine. Get the picture?
I found this recipe on the great New York Times cooking site. The recipe calls for using creme fraiche, which I had and wanted to use. Dear Daughter declared it very easy and very delicious. Pair with a favorite side dish or do what we did....just serve the steak with a warmed baguette to sop up all of the sauce!
Simple Steak au Poivre
adapted from David Tanis, NY Times
4 tenderloin steaks, 6oz each cut one inch thick - I actually used grass fed strip steaks and it was very good.
1T coarsely ground pepper - use black or a mixture of peppercorns. It is important that the pepper is just crushed not finely ground.
2T unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1T cognac or bourbon (I used bourbon)
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Let steaks sit out of the refrigerator on a plate for 30 minutes or so. Season with salt and sprinkle the pepper evenly over each steak. Press pepper into steak with hands and let rest for ten minutes.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Swirl in one tablespoon of butter. Add steaks and cook for two minutes on the first side. Seared side should be nicely browned. Flip and cook for two more minutes for medium rare. Place steaks on a warmed plate and cover with foil while you make the sauce.
Add remaining butter to pan. Once melted, add shallots and cook for one minute. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Add alcohol and cook briskly for three to four minutes until sauce is reduced by half. Stir in creme fraiche and thicken slightly.
Return steaks to pan to warm and spoon sauce over the top. Plate steaks on a warmed plate and top with sauce.