Every Valentine’s day the local butcher shop has beef tenderloin on sale. And every time we get tenderloin we make a roast (this roast) because, well, it’s really good. I tend to stick with winners when dealing with expensive cuts of meat. As a result I’d never made a filet steak and now I had a perfect opportunity. You see, I was planning a surprise dinner for Karen. One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re planning a surprise dinner and they might come home late, a roast is a bad idea. If you think that special someone is coming home at 6:30 and she comes home at 8:00 then you’re stuck with a really overdone roast. But steaks cook quickly. Steaks can be prepared while they watch, preferably after the kids go to bed.
Most of my culinary knowledge comes courtesy of Alton Brown. And it is on his show that I was first introduced to Steak au Poivre. (Here’s the recipe) It’s got just a few ingredients.
Step one is to season the meat all over with salt. Then crush the black peppercorns and press them into the meat, covering both sides. Then cook the steaks.
When the steaks are done take them out and let them rest. Then pour in some brandy and let the alcohol cook off. Now I’ve read elsewhere (like Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook) that to make the sauce you need veal stock and demi-glace, but Alton just adds heavy cream and that’s good enough for me. Let it reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. You’re done.
Now I looked for more interesting things to serve it with than merely potatoes, but I haven’t seen many who mess with tradition. Who am I to disagree? I served mashed potatoes and a green salad that, I’ll admit, I asked Karen to make. But I made 2/3 of dinner.
I did, however, overcook the steaks. They were medium well to well, just a tiny bit of pink in the middle. Too bad. I’d rather they moo in pain when I cut into them.