Steak au poivre, a classic dish
- 2 strip steaks, about 1–1/1/2 inches thick
- Kosher salt
- ~1/2 C whole peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp clarified butter (melt butter and use the clear, oily part that stays on top, leaving the milky watery bits in the bottom of the container)
- 1 1/2 oz brandy
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 cup cream
- 1 Tbsp cold butter
- fries, for serving
- Coarsely crush your peppercorns either by putting them in a freezer bag and beating them with a rolling pin or by laying them on a counter and crushing them with the bottom of a heavy pan, pressing down and moving through the pile to crunch them. Use the but of your palm to apply pressure. Ingenuity is welcome for this step, but don’t crush your pepper too finely.
- Score the fat cap on the edge of the steaks to keep them from curling while cooking.
- Salt the steaks generously.
- Dredge each steak in the pile of peppercorns, pressing them down in the pile to make the pepper adhere well.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the 2 Tbsp clarified butter to the pan. Check that the oil temperature is above 325°F (163°C).
- Cook the steaks in the butter for about 3 minutes per side. Flip the first time when the first side is nicely browned.
- Start taking the temperature with your Thermapen ONE. Cook until the steaks reach between 110 and 120°F (43 and 49°C).
- Remove the pan from heat and carefully pour the brandy over the steaks. If you are able to safely flambé and have a fire extinguisher nearby, ignite the brandy and shake the pan as the alcohol burns out. Cook until the brandy is reduced to a tiny amount, almost dried out (au sec, as we say in the cooking world).
- If your situation doesn’t allow for flambé, kill the heat on the stove, add the brandy, and cook, shaking, over the residual heat in your pan until most of the brandy has cooked out. Then relight the stove and continue to cook until the brandy is au sec.
- Remove the steaks to a platter and allow them to rest while you make the pan sauce.
- Add shallot and thyme to the pan and cook until the shallot softens.
- Add the cream, stir, and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Check for salt, but there should already be plenty of pepper.
- Kill the heat under the pan and stir in one tablespoon of cold butter.
- Plate the steaks and serve, sauced.