When I was young, one of my favourite things to order at a restaurant was a steak sandwich, which meant my steak came out on top of a piece of garlic bread. I couldn’t understand why anyone would order it differently, because the garlic bread was perfectly positioned to soak up all the juices. It was hard for me to decide which part of my meal I liked best – the medium-rare steak or the juice-soaked garlic bread. (I appreciated the baked potato, but it was definitely out of the running.) At home, my mother would pile steaks onto a platter, with a plate stacked with brown bread beside it. After everyone chose their steak, we’d all grab a piece of bread and try to soak up as much of the juices as possible. You may detect a pattern here.
I’m a fan of medium-rare, juicy steak and I don’t want it accompanied by anything that will detract from these qualities. A steak needs to be well-seasoned, of course, but beyond that I just want it grilled/fried/broiled to perfection. Which means that I’ve generally left sauces to other cuts of meat.
Along comes this week’s French Fridays recipe – a pepper steak, with a cognac cream sauce. Have I mentioned that this cooking group often challenges our food habits and preferences? As it turns out, this is rarely a bad thing. The steak (filet mignon, if you please) is prepared simply enough, dressed with crushed peppercorns and fried at high heat. Once the steak is done, the pan is deglazed with cognac and heavy cream is added to create the sauce.
When the sauce is done, the dish must be served immediately, which isn’t a problem because the aroma makes you want to get on with things quite quickly. The sauce adds richness to the steak, without masking its flavour or overwhelming the juices.
Our side dishes were Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli and another Dorie recipe, broth-braised potatoes. They were wonderful complements to the steak; most importantly, the potatoes soaked up the juices of the steak and the cognac cream beautifully. We’ll be having this again soon, as I have some lovely elk steaks in the freezer.
You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak