French food part 2: steak au poivre

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When you read a recipe that has a fire warning, you can't help feel a little nervous. You also start to get really excited, anticipating the moment when you get to pour the brandy into the pan, imagining the flames leaping upwards to lick the hood of your stove, almost feeling the intense heat on your smiling face.

So when the moment finally arrives and nothing happens, it's quite a let down. Which isn't to say that the recipe wasn't a success, because it was. The steak turned out perfectly, the sauce was so subtle and rich, and the combined flavors were awesome.

But I wanted to watch stuff blow up. *pouts*

Along with the steak, we also made herbed potatoes and asparagus with a french vinaigrette, recipes that I will post shortly. All in all, I think French week was a great success!

It was daunting going into this meal in particular, because everything cooked so fast. We found ourselves measuring out everything before hand and lining it up in the order that we would add it, so that we didn't mess up once things started cooking (Mise en place, for you cooking people). I think it's a great technique when you have meals that move quickly, but I prefer to take my time, chop as I go. I call it the "sit and drink some wine and surf the internet while your food cooks" method. 🙂

You will need:

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  • 2 (6-ounce) steaks (the recipe called for rib-eye, but I got sirloin and it tasted fine, and saved me $15 at Wegmans)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarse-cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup good-quality brandy
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups beef stock (Emeril used veal stock, but A. I'm not rich and B. veal is the only meat I don't eat. Ever since that South Park episode...)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped parsley leaves for garnish (optional)

Brush both sides of the steaks with the mustard, and sprinkle with salt.

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In a pie tin, crack the peppercorns and coat each side with the steak. (It looked like A LOT of pepper to us, but it isn't that strong once it's cooked and you add the sauce. So don't worry too much.)

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In a large, heavy frying pan, add the the 2 tbs of vegetable oil, and heat until it starts smoking. Add the meat and cook each side for 3 minutes.

Just a heads up, there will be smoke. A lot of smoke. And when you already shut all the storm windows in preparation for the winter, you might end up running around your house, pulling down the smoke detectors before they go off. Of course, the batteries are probably dead anyway, so it's a good thing you checked.

Once your steaks are cooked, move them to a plate and set aside. Add your chopped shallots and the rest of the oil back into the pan, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Now you add the brandy, and it's supposed to ignite and be awesome and fun. Ours didn't, but maybe the pan wasn't hot enough? I don't know. All I know is that my dreams were crushed and I cried myself to sleep.

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Here is a sad picture that does not involve fire.

If your brandy ignites, congratulations, you're cooler than me. If it doesn't, don't worry about it, just stir until most of it has evaporated. Then add the garlic and beef stock, bring to a boil, and simmer until it has reduced by half.

Add the heavy cream and continue to reduce for another 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the butter and another pinch of salt, and you're done!

Emeril says to serve immediately, but I would have preferred to wait and let it thicken up a little more before I spooned it over the steak.

steak, pepper, salt, sautee, saute, steak au poivre, french steak, beef, steak with french sauce

This sauce was awesome. It seemed weird to add brandy and heavy cream (gross) and beef stock, but they mixed together so well. Even Ken liked the shallots, though they are mini onions, and there was just enough garlic to add flavor without dominating the meal (which happens a lot with my cooking, as I usually add 2x the garlic!)

So, lack of fire aside, I think this was a rousing success. French cooking is a little more involved than any other style I've tried so far, but the result is so worth the effort.

steak, pepper, salt, sautee, saute, steak au poivre, french steak, beef, steak with french sauce

But next time, I'm igniting the brandy with a match if I have to! 

 

Recipe adapted (made less expensive) from Emerill Lagasse, over at FoodNetwork.com 

 

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