As I have mentioned in the past, Lincoln thinks he’s a dog. Right now he’s being a total pest because we won’t let him outside. He has been an indoor-outdoor cat in the past, and since moving, we haven’t really been letting him out, and definitely not unsupervised. All he does is follow us around meowing because he wants to go out, and it’s really getting on our nerves. He does have his redeeming moments though…he’s a total “if it fits, I sits” cat, since he climbed into my vanity while I was getting ready yesterday morning.
Now, on to the dish at hand. I started watching “Good Eats” pretty much right after it aired on the Food Network in 1999. Alton Brown, who is basically the Bill Nye of food, showed the world the science behind everyone’s favorite culinary ingredients and dishes for 13 years, until the show finally ended in 2012. From tequila to tenderloin, pepper to paella, mushrooms to mixology, every episode was packed with science, recipes, and AB’s quirky personality. Netflix has been airing a few seasons, and Hubster and I have been devouring them. We even went to see Alton Brown live last month when he brought his “Eat Your Science” tour to Reading, PA.
The other night, we watched an episode about beef tenderloin and all the ways the different parts can be prepared. Who knew there was so much to tenderloin? One recipe that caught our tastebuds was for steak au poivre, or pepper steak. Hubster is all about black pepper (or just about anything with a kick to it, for that matter), so I found AB’s recipe online and decided to give it a try. The first order of business was coating two tenderloin steaks in peppercorns, which I crushed using a mortar and pestle.
(Side note: we both agreed the peppercorns were just a little bit too big. Will definitely crush them smaller next time).
Then, butter and oil got melted in a pan until it was slightly golden and smoking. It is important to use a regular pan, NOT NON-STICK. You want all these little bits left over to make the sauce after searing the steaks:
If you use a non-stick pan, those delicious little bits will not stick around, and it will be impossible to build the delicious sauce that goes along with the steaks. The steaks were cooked 4 minutes per side to a delicious medium-rare; if you like a more well-done steak, cook for longer on each side. The steaks came out of the pan (leaving those glorious little morsels of flavor) and it was time to deglaze and build the sauce, the key ingredient of which was…
…Cognac. I was completely unfamiliar with Cognac until last night. I literally bought this particular bottle because it had Napoleon on the bottle. Cognac is a less in-your-face brandy with a slight smoky flavor. I tried a little by itself and I now understand why people sip it as an after dinner drink. Cooking with a hard liquor like Cognac requires the alcohol to be burned off, which, you guessed it, requires FIRE! After adding the Cognac to the pan (off the heat), I got to light the smoke on fire and make a big spectacle. Unfortunately, I forgot to have Hubster take a picture of that, but thankfully our kitchen is still intact, as are my eyebrows. After the flames died down, the pan went back on the heat and a cup of heavy cream was added, then brought to a boil and thickened, while whisking, for about 5 minutes.
You want to talk rich, creamy, caramelized, smoky, delicious goodness? This. Sauce. Was. The. Bomb. (or as my students would say, “totally lit”) I’m pretty sure you could have put this cream sauce on a flip-flop and I probably would have eaten it. The steaks got returned to the pan and coated in the luscious goodness while I finished the potatoes:
Simply cut up and roasted at 350 with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a Penzey’s spice blend called Mural of Flavor for about 50 minutes. Honestly, any spice blend will do, even Italian seasoning. We enjoyed our Steak au Poivre outside on our new patio table with the roasted potatoes, some steamed broccoli, and a bottle of homemade Pinot Noir.
How delicious does that look!??!? After dinner, we did some work in the garden before all the light was gone, and finished the night with some black raspberry milkshakes.
Click for Alton Brown’s recipe for Steak au Poivre.