Now and then I have a craving for red meat. And when that craving comes I want a meal that's fast and easy to make. Steak au poivre is my answer. It's a French-restaurant favorite. I don't think there's anyone out there who can dispute that. It's one of my absolute favorite dishes and I almost always order it if I see it on a menu. But it's so simple to make at home when I feel like staying in. It's quickly cooked in a pan followed by a luxurious sauce that includes brandy and white wine. This recipe can be made for a quiet romantic dinner for two or even doubled or tripled for an elegant dinner party.
For the perfect level of flavor and doneness, make sure the steaks have come to room temperature before cooking, then pat dry, and season well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Crush the pepper in a mortar and pestle or using my new favorite tool, the Flavour Shaker. I like to press the steaks into the crushed black pepper for optimal adhesion. For a steak that's beautifully pink inside, a 2-minute cook time per side is ideal. Remember that the steaks will continue to cook a little bit while they are resting, so it's best to cook it just a bit under of your desired end product. Pay attention when making the sauce, the liquid ingredients reduce very fast. That reduction makes for a rich and viscous sauce. And be careful when adding the alcohol.
In the picture I've served the steaks with just sautéed Swiss chard. A healthy serving of greens is a wonderful accompaniment to red meat. I recommend chard, kale, broccoli rabe, or spinach. Sauté the greens in a bit of oil and garlic and let them steam covered. It's the perfect entrée.
Steak au Poivre with Shallot Pan Sauce
2 strip steaks, about 1-inch thick
coarse sea salt
freshly crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
3 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Season both sides of steaks liberally with salt and crushed black pepper.
Heat a medium heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. To the hot pan add oil and steaks. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove steaks and allow to rest.
Wipe pan, removing excess oil and residue. Turn heat down to medium-high. Add butter, swirling until melted. Add shallots and sauté until translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Off from heat, add brandy and allow to reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and allow to reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add cream and allow to reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve. Yield: 2 servings.