Steak au Poivre (pepper Steak)
- 1 New York strip steak
- 1 Tbs whole black peppercorns
- 4 Tbs (40 g) unsalted butter
- 1 shallot
- 3 Tbs (45 ml) Cognac
- 4 Tbs (60 ml) demi-glace de viande (or substitute red wine, broth or water)
- 1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
Ingredients (for 1). For French style, buy a steak about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, for American style, buy a steak about 1.5 inch (3.2 cm) thick. The quality of the dish is determined by the quality of the meat. Well aged USDA choice or prime is great if you can get it. Unwrap your steak and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so before you start. It will cook more evenly if it is at room temperature when you start cooking. Place the whole peppercorns on a chopping block and very coarsely crush them with the bottom of a pan or the side of a large chef's knife. Take your (now room temperature) steak, and pat the peppercorns into the meat on both sides. The meat should be heavily coated with very coarsely crushed peppercorns, but the meat should still be visible between the peppercorns. Chop the shallots and set them aside. Chop the parsley and set it aside. Heat 1/2 of the butter in a heavy skillet (I find heavy aluminum works best, it is easier to regulate the temperature than with iron) until it stops foaming and is very hot (but not burned). Put the steak in the skillet and salt the top to taste. Saute the steak on the first side (5 mins. for a 1" thick steak, 7.5 mins. for a 1.5 inch thick steak). Turn it over, salt the other side, and continue sauteeing for the same amount of time as you cooked the first side. For a medium rare steak, total cooking time is usually 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Other ways to tell when it's done include: (1) flip the steak as soon as blood rises to the surface on a side, and (2) calibrate your finger by poking a steak you like some day and remembering the feel. Remove the steak and put it on a plate. Allowing the steak to "rest" while you finish the dish will result in a more uniformly cooked interior. Turn the heat way down, pour off most of the butter, and add the shallots. Saute them for a minute or two. Add the Cognac. to avoid a 6 ft. (2 m) pillar of flame, allow most of the alcohol to evaporate and then touch the side of the pan to the flame to ignite the remaining alcohol. For a truly spectacular pillar of flame, add the Cognac to the hot pan and immediately ignite the vaporized fuel (stand back when you do this!). Add the demi-glace and reduce it to a thick glaze. Finish the sauce by swirling in the remaining butter. Pur the sauce over the steak, and finish with parsley. Serve lots of good bread to soak up the sauce. This goes very well with a red wine. Good garnishes include sauteed potatoes, carrots and wild mushrooms.
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