Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Vieux L'Ecole

Steak au poivre with glazed carrots

Fifty years ago French gastronomy was the end all be all of the American food world. With champions such as Jackie Kennedy and Julia Child, French cuisine represented both high culture and home cooking. But then American food tastes began to shift. Regional Italian became a starlet for a while and still commands a hefty performance fee. Now Asian and South American cooking garners our attention more than trout meuniere ever did. Watch for regional Mexican to explode in the next few years. Sadly, "French cooking" has by and large become the mom jeans of the culinary world.

Of course, this is an imperfect analogy, as things like charcuterie have been reborn in restaurants across America and the food of the bistro will never disappear. Ask yourself this, when was the last time a new restaurant opened that had a pure French bend and was not a bistro? When did you last get a craving for homard l'americaine or bernaise? Luckily there may be no finer cuisine suited to your home cooking explorations as that of the French. Most of the ingredients you already have and it requires very little in the way of intricate tools or burdensome techniques. So pull out those mom jeans and bring them back in style while you Prancercise about the house.

Steak au Poivre

Steak au poivre is a dish that no one will be debuting on a tasting menu any time soon. To make it, use any cut of beef you like, but I prefer the chuck eye roast which is like a faux filet. Most recipes call for veal stock or demi-glace, but you can omit them. The star of this dish is the pepper and the cream. The only key technique is basting this mother continuously as it cooks with hot butter.

Cut of beef, your choice
Peppercorns, a good amount, whole, crushed lightly but not ground
Brandy or Cognac, 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup cream

Crack your pepper corns in a mortar and pestle or however else you accomplish such things. Generously coat your beef with the peppercorns and let sit for thirty minutes. Heat a cast iron skillet till wisps of smoke rise from its surface. Season steak with kosher salt and place on the skillet.

After 3 minutes, flip steak over. Toss in a golf ball sized lump of butter and begin basting the meat. Baste furiously. After another 3 minutes, turn the steak on its side and brown all sides evenly. Continue basting with what should now be delicious brown butter. Remove steak from pan and allow to rest when at preferred doneness. But since you are cooking French food, go rarer than normal. Re-salt when the steak comes off the heat. 

Pour out the butter. Add brandy or cognac to the skillet and return to the stove. Scrape up all those crusty bits on the pan. Add cream, bring to a simmer, taste, adjust seasoning, and serve immediately on top of the steak.

Serve this with lots of cheap Bordeaux. Two reasons to do so. One, no one else is drinking this stuff, so there is a glut of inventory, which translates to affordable wine. Secondly, many of it is actually pretty tasty and almost tastes like expensive, old Bordeaux is supposed to taste like. 

La vie en rose. 


CWB said...

2 posts in a week! YOu sure you didn't sous vide that beef - looks perfect

Rene said...

Just basting and dumb luck!

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