Friday, November 09, 2007

Steak Au Poivre

Thanks to the Gastronomical3, I started to read "The Kitchen Diaries" by Nigel Slater. What an inspiring book! Then, my dear friends SC and LMcR both started NaNoWriMo, but since I have no desire to write fiction, I thought I'd try to write more about food. I love that Slater writes about the seasonality about food - what was going on in his life, what the weather was like, etc. when he cooked what he cooked. I am going to try to do the same.

So, I have been home from work the past 2 days - the kids' have parent teacher conferences, and I have vacation days left to use this year. As usual, I am trying to cram several months worth of "stay at home mom" type activities in 3 days. This means lots of cooking, cleaning and kid stuff.

I'm just recovering from this year's annual asthma attack, which usually happens to me in November, but I was spared last year. However, this year was a doozy, so all I have been wanting to eat is spicy soups. Last night, I felt like eating and since I had the time, we made a recipe my husband has been wanting to try, from Alton Brown's Good Eats. (I love you Alton Brown - you got my husband interested in cooking!).

Steak au Poivre
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
1 cup heavy cream

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.

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.

Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and 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. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.

Alton's not kidding about taking this off the heat when you ignite it. All the neighbor kids were over when we did it, and the flames shot up to the ceiling. The kids were duly impressed. My daughter wouldn't eat this, because she is still dabbling in vegetarianism. (it's hard to be a vegetarian when you don't like vegetables!). I made it with half and half because that's all I had.

This truly was good eats - and fairly easy to make. Beef tenderloin was on sale at Busch's this week for $4.99/lb.


Anonymous said...

The school where I teach had PTC last's a loooong day for teachers. But, we had a half-day today to make up for it! Yay! I hope your kids and you had some nice time off :)

Thanks for the G3 link...I am putting that book on my reading list :)

Maria said...

Isn't that book just incredibly dreamy? I love that I in equal parts want to camp out in the kitchen with it and take it to bed with a cup of tea. Do you know about NaBloPoMo? A slightly less rigorous version of NaNoWriMo. Still plenty rigorous for those of with jobs and kids though.