Business Travel – Steak au Poivre

I’m away on business in London, but I’ve kept a few of these in reserve for just such an occasion so you, gentle reader, can get your weekly fix. Enjoy!

Being away on business travel also means I have a chance to push and challenge myself to try ingredients I normally wouldn’t cook at home or eat in restaurants. I had a fantastic dish of crispy roast belly pork in London’s Chinatown the night before last. While it wasn’t quite as crispy as I would have liked, it was well cooked. I can respect now the difficulty in cooking this cut of meat – it is very easy to produce tough, rubbery meat. Instead, this was soft, a bit chewier than a steak, and mildly flavored.

It also amounts to eating chunks of uncured bacon, something my heart may never forgive me for. And I’m not thinking about the Weight Watchers points.

I’ve also had Crispy Aromatic Duck, an old Chinatown favorite of a crisped roast duck shredded tableside and served with hoisin sauce and batonnettes of cucumber and green onion on rice paper wraps – sort of like a small duck fajita. Dinner last night was decidedly French, including a fennel soup out of this world and choucroute alsacienne, a homey rustic bowl of sauerkraut, potato, various pork products, and a bit of mustard on the side. Lunch yesterday was Mediterranean, including a fantastic hummus and an adana kebab – grilled, spiced ground lamb served with rice and vegetables.

Today’s dish is the venerable Steak au Poivre (Pepper Steak). This really is a simple dish to put together, and cooks lightning quick – perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. Adjust the pepper used to your taste – I’m a fan of it, so I tried to pick up as much of the pepper on the crust as possible. Blade steaks, also known as flat iron steaks, come from the shoulder of the cow, the same region that gives us chuck roasts. Despite that, blade steaks are a very tender cut of meat. More information from Cook’s Illustrated (note: link to PDF).

Steak au Poivre - Final 2

Shown here with a grilled Romaine salad and Lipton Sides Butter Noodles. (Hey, I use prepackaged foods every now and again.)

Steak au Poivre (serves 1)

  • 8 oz blade steak
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 4 tbsp half and half
  • salt, to taste

Crack the peppercorns with a heavy skillet – rolling the skillet over them works best, although bashing the hell out of ’em can be fun. Salt the steak on both sides, then crust with peppercorns. (Spread out the cracked pepper, then press the steak into the peppercorns on both sides.)

Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Cook steak in oil, around 5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Remove, cover loosely with foil, and let rest.

Discard the burnt oil in the skillet and return it to the heat. Add shallots and sautĂ© for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the skillet with cognac, stirring to make sure the browned bits are off the bottom of the pan. FlambĂ©, especially if entertaining company while cooking – otherwise, just let it cook down for a bit. Add cream and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by about half or at desired thickness.

Serve steak, spoon sauce over steak, and enjoy!