As I think of what to write about this very traditional "meat and potatoes" type meal (literally), I realize just how infrequently I cook beef. That's healthy, I suppose, but also kind of a shame because I love meat and I love steak and ribs and all that good stuff. This meal, in particular, would totally be right at home on the menu of a steakhouse, albeit one with some heavy French influences. Like Les Halles.
The main event on this plate is obviously the peppery steak au poivre, seared to a medium rare, crusted in freshly ground black pepper and doused in a rich, buttery sauce of mustard, brandy, anchovies, cream and even more pepper, this is not a dish for the dainty, but it packs in huge amounts of flavor.
Accompanying the steak I had a little mashed potatoes, which Nathan whipped up, and then I made a nice little vegetable side dish of mushrooms and spinach, because we aren't total gluttons.
This meal totally worked, although I warn you that packing a single item with this much black pepper is a bold bold move. It's not for the faint of heart, so feel free to dial it back down if you're scared. Remember, you can always add more!
The spinach and mushrooms was actually originally a dish with kale, and I think that other leafy greens such as chard or collards would work here too. It's light and simple and balanced the rich, creamy steak sauce out nicely.
Steak Au Poivre
adapted from patiodaddiobbq.com
¼ cup Olive oil
3 tbsp Black peppercorns, cracked to a medium consistency
1¾ lb steak
5 oil packed anchovies
½ cup hot water
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup brandy or cognac
8 tbsp Butter, unsalted
½ cup half and half
Lightly oil both sides of the steak and coat each side with half of the crushed peppercorns and about a teaspoon of salt. Let the steak sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425º. Heat a cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe pan) over medium-high heat, and add the remaining oil and half of the butter to the pan. Sear each side of the steak until it is browned nicely. Move the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until medium rare. Remove the pan from the oven, move the steak to a platter and let it rest.
Return pan to medium heat. Add anchovies, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until they break down. Add the water and bring just to a boil while scraping up the browned bits of fond from the bottom of the pan. Then add the mustard and alcohol and continue stirring until the mustard is well-incorporated. Add the remaining butter and half and half and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce with salt to taste, and lower the heat. Cook the sauce until it thickens slightly, then reduce heat and let thicken further.
Slice the steak across the grain in quarter inch slices and serve drizzled with the sauce.
Garlicky Mushrooms and Spinach
adapted from Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes, via Serious Eats
1 tsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp salt
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 lb spinach (or chard, kale or other leafy green), coarse stems removed, leaves washed, then sliced or torn into pieces
cracked black pepper
Preheat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle on the salt. Let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until the moisture has released and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the greens and pepper, and cook for an additional 10 minutes or so, until cooked down and thoroughly wilted. Add a bit of water if the pan seems too dry at any point. Serve immediately.