Steak au Poivre


Bordeaux, whether Right Bank or Left, Cabernet or Merlot based, large château or small, cries out for red meat. Beef will always work, and lamb is terrific with Bordeaux with a little bit of age. Grilling is probably the best preparation, with pan roasting second best. Braising works, but I will almost always choose a Grenache based wine for a braise. Since I’m in Manhattan, and won’t get to grill until next summer, we’ll be pan roasting this dish.

Today’s recipe is a take on the classic Steak au Poivre. There are hundreds of recipes available for this dish, and this one was taken from one of my favorite cookbooks, The 60 Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey. I’ve modified it over time to suit my taste. This version uses both red wine and brandy for the sauce. This also calls for beef stock. I’ve been using the Beef Soup Base and Seasoning from Penzeys Spices, available online and in their retail stores (including one in Grand Central Market) and I like it more than any canned broth I’ve tasted. Pan roasting entails giving the meat a good, deep sear on the stovetop, then finishing the cooking in the oven.

The wine choice is Château Roque Le Mayne, from the Cotes de Castillon. This area sits next to St. Emilion, on the same ridge. This small Château has been owned by the Meynard family since the last century, and is made by thirty-something year old Jean-François Meynard. Only a political boundary, not terroir, separates this wine from wines selling for three times the price! - Paul Bressler, Bordeaux Co-Buyer


Ingredients - Serves 4

  • 4 New York Strip Steaks (also called Shell Steaks when the bone is included)
  • 2 Tbs. Coarsley Cracked Peppercorns
  • 3 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Finely Chopped Shallots
  • 1/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
  • 1 Tbs. Cognac or other fine Brandy
  • 2 Tbs. Chopped Parsley (optional)
  • Salt

Note on ingredient list - "2 Tbs. Cracked Peppercorns" is not the same as "2 Tbs. Peppercorns, Cracked." In the first instance, you crack first, then measure. In the second, you measure first, then crack. All of the ingredients in this recipe call for you to crack or chop first, then measure.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle each steak with salt on both sides.
  3. Evenly divide the peppercorns into 8 piles. Sprinkle both sides of each steak with the peppercorns, pressing the peppercorns into the flesh of the steak so that they stick. (Note - Peppercorns lose much of their heat when cooked. Do not worry that you are using too much.)
  4. Place heavy cast iron skillet (or other heavyweight, oven safe skillet) onto the stove over high heat. Do not add any fat. Pre-heat pan for approximately 10 minutes until very, very, hot!
  5. While skillet is heating, melt one tablespoon of butter in a small sauce pan.
  6. Add shallots to sauce pan, and cook over medium heat until shallots are wilted.
  7. Add wine to sauce pan, and cook over medium heat for one minute.
  8. Add cognac to sauce pan and heat until sauce comes to a simmer.
  9. Reduce sauce by half.
  10. Add stock to sauce pan.
  11. Lower heat on sauce pan low and reduce to approximately 4 tabelspoons.
  12. Turn heat off sauce when properly reduced.
  13. While sauce is reducing and skillet is properly pre-heated, add steaks to skillet.
  14. Cook over high heat for two minutes on each side, then turn and cook for two more minutes on the second side. Turn again, first side is in contact with the skillet.
  15. Remove skillet from heat and place in oven. Cook an additional four minutes in the oven for medium doneness. Adjust cooking time in one minute intervals for different doneness levels.
  16. Return sauce pan to low heat while steaks rest.
  17. Swirl remaining butter into sauce. Salt to taste.
  18. Plate steaks.
  19. Spoon sauce over steaks.
  20. Garnish with chopped parsley.
  21. Serve.

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