steak au poivre

i’d like to have more recipes like this in my arsenal –

the ingredient list is short enough to memorize: everything in small measures (except for the cream, oops), and of the highest quality you dare to buy.

what follows that is an utterly satisfying set of cooking steps (crush, season, sear; pour in, spoon out, whisk, stir). it comes together like a song.

what arrives at the dinner table then is a pepper-crusted round of gorgeously browned beef, poured over with a richly flavored cream sauce good enough to warrant some plate-licking – or at least some very earnest scraping of the spoon.

it’s a dish that’ll please both the hungry steak-lover and the elegant diner – just the thing to bookmark for that holiday coming up in february… or just dinner for your dichotomous self.

Steak au Poivre
adapted from Good Eats and The Pioneer Woman
Makes 2 servings

2 top sirloin, tri-tip, or other good-quality steak (about 1 pound total, no more than 1½ inches thick)
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup brandy
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt.
  2. Protect your work surface with layer of newspaper. Place peppercorns on a paper towel and fold over so that peppercorns are between two layers of paper towel. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mallet, rolling pin, or other weighty object.
  3. Spread the crushed peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the filets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.
  4. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.
  5. Off the heat, add Dijon and brandy to pan, then whisk together. Carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes.
  6. Place each steak on a plate, spoon the sauce over, and serve. (You will have sauce left over. Reserve for another use, or – buy more steaks for tomorrow!)

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