Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bachelor dinner: steak au poivre

Tonight I was dining by my lonesome. Dinner for one is always my time to eat something I know I love that my dining companions might not.

I was near a supermarket during my afternoon outing with Ketchup Man and ribeyes were on sale so I picked one up along with some celery for a salad. (Yes, a celery salad. Keep reading.)

I started with a large handful of whole peppercorns, black, green, and white. According to my Penzey's catalog, these are all the same berry at different stages of ripeness. I love them all. I crushed them against my board.

Then I heated up my cast iron skillet. Charcoal grilled steaks are good, but I like the sear I get from cast iron better.

I pressed the pepper and some salt into the beef and started to cook.

Within moments the smoke detector was beeping and Ketchup Man was awake. I went to soothe him back to sleep. Then I began my celery salad. I sliced some red onions and shaved some celery against its fibers with an Oxo veggie peeler.

I tossed these together with some red chile flakes, salt, red wine vinegar, and olive oil and let it sit in the bowl. The acid in the vinegar helps the celery relax and takes the bite out of the raw onions. Contrary to food myth, many fresh salads benefit from being dressed a bit ahead of time.

Back to the steak. I turned it after a few minutes and after a few more held its sides against the pan to sear them too.

When it was done I let it rest while preparing a sauce. Into the hot skillet went some sliced shallots, which I stirred for a moment as they quickly browned.

Then I added sweet red vermouth (I would have used red wine but we don't have any) and dijon mustard

and stirred for a minute or two. Then to finish it off, I added a bit of butter. The French call this monter au beurre and they insist that you do it whenever you make this kind of sauce. Butter is good.

This should give you a good idea of why home cooking is better than eating in restaurants. A good restaurant would charge at least $20 for steak au poivre, and that's without a drink and without tax and a tip. $20 is on the low end. I made it for less than $5.

It only takes a couple of minutes to make a simple sauce like this and it turns a supermarket steak into something pretty fantastic. When eating intense cooked flavors like these it's great to have something to offer contrasting flavor and texture notes, so that's where I was coming from with the celery salad. It's crunchy and it wakes up the tongue. (I think I might have ripped the idea for the salad off from Jamie Oliver, but I really don't remember.)

Ok, it's on the medium side. Rarer might have been better. But it was delicious. Since I'm not the least bit macho, I don't mind admitting that I didn't finish it. Tomorrow we'll scrape off the pepper and see what the Ketchup Man thinks of steak au poivre sans poivre.


Blogger Lisa B-K/Jim K said...

I love my oxo peeler!

Yr blog has been fun so far...

9:30 AM  
Blogger mzn said...

Thanks, miz. Glad to hear from you.

I love my oxo too. I'm trying to think of the craziest thing you can do with it. Any ideas?

9:58 AM  
Blogger mzb said...

steak au poivre sans demi-galce? quel horreur.


12:03 PM  
Blogger mzb said...

merde; demi gLAce


12:03 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

If you have any extra veal bones in the freezer, mzb, could you send them my way?

12:42 PM  

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