This week's recipe comes from the Food Network Alton Brown. On his Good Eats show, one episode was dedicated to Steak au poivre.
This recipe is rated as Intermediate, though I found it pretty easy to follow. Let's talk about the ingredients first:
Tenderloin steaks. I actually used filet mignon, which is part of the tenderloin. I can't afford steak very often, so when I make it, I go all out and get the good stuff.
Kosher salt we have a salt grinder and that works just fine. When it runs out, we're buying Kosher salt (which by rights should be called Koshering salt)
Whole Peppercorns easy to find in the spice aisle of your grocery
Olive oil no kitchen should be without it
Unsalted butter generally speaking, I don't cook with butter. This is so I don't have to go visit my friendly neighborhood cardiologist and send his kids to college. I don't recommend switching it out for something less fatty, because the sauce will lose that quintessence that makes this a fabulous recipe.
Cognac I leave the booze shopping to my sweetie, because he has even more expensive taste than I do. For this occasion, we used Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal. I am not the first to say this (Alton Brown has said it and so have several others): Don't cook with booze you wouldn't drink.
heavy cream. No, this is not a low-fat recipe. It's also not something I make all the time. A little indulgence probably won't kill you. Having this for a meal five nights a week for a year might, but you'll die happy.
I like this ingredient list. Everything but the booze is found in your average grocery store (here in Connecticut for me that is Stop & Shop). If you know a good butcher, more power to you, but running around to specialty shops is not required.
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before cooking, sprinkle all sides with salt. Big thumbs up to Alton here, this is a bit of cooking lore some cookbooks assume you know and therefore don't tell you.
coarsely crush peppercorns . . . I like that he presents several suggestions for accomplishing this. For the highest fun factor, go for the mallet.
in a medium skillet. . . this paragraph not only tells you what tool to use (some recipes don't) but exactly what to look for when it says As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke. Here we have a great example of instructions. Go Alton!
Off of the heat if I were to make any change to the recipe, I might bold those four words. I think there would be fewer singed eyebrows in the world. Still, the instructions for setting the cognac on fire (yes, I had to set something on fire in the first real post!) are easy to follow.
I would recommend this recipe for Valentines day, or other intimate occasion, like Thursday. It has the advantage of tasting like you slaved in the kitchen all day, but it really doesn't take very long to make.
Comments, questions? Have a recipe you'd like deconstructed? Let's hear it!