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Martha's Steak au Poivre

MyCookbook Recipe Database
MyCookbook Member: MarthasArchive2
Recipe Category: Beef
Recipe Preparation Level: moderate
    Pepper, one of our most consistently used spices, is an essential component to so many of the dishes we cook. It was once considered so valuable that when Alaric the Visigoth sacked Rome in A.D. 408 and held the city for ransom, one of his demands was for three thousand pounds of pepper. We're all familiar with black pepper, which is the pepper we use on a daily basis, but it comes in other varieties as well, each with its own distinct flavor. Green peppercorns have a tart, almost fruity flavor; white peppercorns are milder than their black counterparts, but more aromatic. Pepper loses some of its flavor a few months after being ground, so it's best to keep it whole in a good pepper mill.

    Steak au Poivre
    Serves 2

    The creamy sauce mellows the peppercorns on the steak in this quick and luscious version of a classic.

    2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
    1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
    1 tablespoon dried green peppercorns
    2 boneless shell steaks, about 12 ounces each
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 large shallot, minced
    1/2 cup cognac
    1 cup beef stock
    1 tablespoon green peppercorns in brine, drained and coarsely chopped
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    Coarse salt (optional)

    1. Place the black, white, and dried green peppercorns in a heavy resealable plastic bag; crush with smooth side of meat tenderizer or bottom of heavy skillet. (Or, pulse in spice grinder until coarsely ground.) Pat steaks dry; coat both sides with peppercorn mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and the vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add steaks to pan; cook until seared on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer to a platter; cover with foil.

    2. Drain all fat from skillet; melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add shallot, and cook until it begins to soften but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add cognac; boil, scraping up browned bits from pan. Add stock, green peppercorns, and liquid from around steaks; boil until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in cream, and boil until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Season with salt if desired. Pour sauce over steaks; serve immediately.

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