THE TRUE STEAK POIVRE
Here is a dish that is among the most famous in the French classic culinary repertory, yet it is far less complex than most.
The flavors of black pepper, Cognac, and cream form a fragrant but lively coating that gives the tender but bland filet a new allure.
Sometimes Steak au Poivre is prepared with the firmer, more flavorful strip steak, but, like Fred dancing with Ginger, the sauce and
the filet are the perfect match. Let a Zinfandel or Barbera provide the background music.
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2 filets mignons (6 to 8 ounces each), cut 1 1/4 inches thick
1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons Cognac
1/3 cup crème fraîche or heavy (or whipping) cream
||About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the steaks from the refrigerator and pat them dry.
Coarsely crush the peppercorns in a mortar with a pestle or in a peppermill and spread them on a plate.
Coat the filets on both sides with the pepper. Set aside at room temperature.|
||Melt the butter and oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet with a long handle. When very hot, add the fillets.
Cook until seared and well-crusted on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook the second side, 4 minutes more for medium-rare or
5 minutes more for medium. Baste the filets with pan drippings and salt them after turning.|
||Remove the skillet from the heat. Transfer the filets to a plate and pour off the cooking fat.
Do not wash or wipe out the skillet. Return the filets to the skillet. In a small saucepan, heat the Cognac over medium heat.
When it boils, pour the Cognac over the filets (make sure your hair is tied back and your sleeves are rolled up before you do this).
Carefully light the Cognac with a long kitchen match. It will flare up momentarily. Gently shake the skillet over the hot burner until the flames die.
(This procedure accomplishes two objectives: All the alcohol burns off and residual fat in the skillet burns as well.)
Transfer the steaks to 2 plates or a platter and keep warm.|
||Add the crème fraîche to the skillet and bring it to a boil, scraping the bottom
with a wooden spoon to deglaze the meat juices. Gently whisk the sauce until it has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add salt.|
||Pour the sauce over the filets and serve at once.|
Excerpted from STEAK LOVER'S COOKBOOK copyright © 1996 William Rice.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.