Steak au poivre: steak with pepper doesn’t need to be a great cut of meat or a huge one. So it can be elegant, and inexpensive.
It’s quicker and easier than making a hamburger, high in protein and good for the blood and a cold night, like April Fools Day’s night, or what we hope is the last frost of the year kind of night. And usually, it was just a hope. There is always another cold night where you want a spicy, mouth-stimulating main dish.
Grind pepper, or crush a mix of peppercorns, which you can buy from Savory Spice Shop, in a mortal and spread out on a plate. Dry the steak and lay it on the pepper, press and turn. Press again and let it rest until you are nearly ready to eat (6-8 minutes before). Julia Child suggests you let the meat rest with the pepper crust for one half hour to three hours.
Heat 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 tsp. of butter in a sauté pan on medium high heat. The pan is ready when the foam of the butter starts to subside. Cook the steak for three or four minutes per side. Moderate the temperature between medium and high so that the butter/oil doesn’t burn.
The meat is medium-rare when it feels slightly springy.
What does this feel like, you’ve probably always wondered. I heard a great analogy.
Relax your hand, palm up. Poke or pinch the fleshy part at the base of your thumb. This is what raw/rare meat feels like. Now, press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb (make a little ring with those two fingers). Relax and poke or pinch the thickness of your hand at the base of the thumb again. This is what medium rare feels like. Press the thumb-tip to your first two fingertips and that’s what too done feels like.
Keep the sauté pan warm and add a little more butter if you can handle it, and then a little bit of cognac or good sherry. Serve the steak on a warm plate and while one of you is serving the rest of the meal, stir the sauce and finally pour over the steak.