Lately I've been holding cooking marathons on the weekends where I knock out several recipes. Cooking is relaxing for me so it's a perfect weekend activity, but with three cooking groups, it's also a way for me to stay ahead of schedule.
The downside is that I cook a dish, and then have trouble remembering much about it when I go to blog about it a few weeks later. That's kind of the situation with the Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak for this week's French Fridays with Dorie.
I remember that I wanted to buy filet mignon, but it was way too expensive. Ribeye steaks were my second choice, but they were too pricey as well. So I picked up a couple of strip steaks. Still not inexpensive, but reasonable.
The steaks are started by sprinkling the steaks with ground peppercorns. My husband is extremely sensitive to any kind of heat, including black pepper, so I used a light sprinkle of ground pepper on his and a more generous rough and tumble sprinkle of peppercorns that I ground with my mortar and pestle on the steak my daughter and I would share.
Cooked in a butter and oil mixture over high heat in a cast iron skillet, the steaks cook very quickly. The perfectly cooked steaks, tender and juicy inside and nicely crusted on the outside, are removed from the skillet to rest. A pan sauce is made by removing the fat from the pan and then adding Cognac or brandy to the pan. I cook on an electric stove, so making a flame with the alcohol is really not an option. Instead, I let the brandy cook down a bit. Cream is swirled in, and you are done.
I had issues with the cream cooking too quickly and ended up with a thick paste like gravy instead of a smooth, delicate sauce. My second attempt was slightly more successful, but I still don't think it worked as well as it should have. I used a very large skillet, and that may have been the problem - too much surface area. The flavor was wonderful though and a great addition to the steaks.
Steak frites seemed like a natural with this dish, so I made the les frites that Dorie wrote about in a sidebar next to this recipe. While this method of par boiling the fries in oil and then doing a second fry at a higher temperature resulted in a delicious fry, it was a bit too much work for french fries at home.
Guess I actually remembered plenty! My family and I truly enjoyed this deceptively simple recipe!