Monday, November 4, 2013

Steak Au (Sichuan) Poivre

Everyone has their favorite steak prep method, and mine happens to be au poivre. That addictive peppery crust just cannot be beat. I tend to overload my peppercorn mix with Sichuan peppercorns, which add a fun tingle and exotic flicker to the classic dish. I also tend to deglaze the pan with whatever stout I'm swigging, which is not a particularly Sichuanese tradition (or even a French one) so if you'd prefer to stick with the usual bourbon, cognac or brandy etc, that's fine. This latest occasion I happened to be drinking Bell's Cherry Stout, which made for an exceptionally tasty deglazer!

Sichuan Steak Au Poivre
Makes 2 servings

*1 well-marbled strip steak cut about an inch thick, around 10 oz
*2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns + 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
*Kosher salt
*1 teaspoon chili oil or EVOO
*2 tablespoons butter at room temperature, divided
*1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
*3 tablespoons stout beer (or bourbon)
*1/2 cup beef stock - I boil down a cup of beef stock until it is reduced by half
*1 scant teaspoon light soy sauce

About 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the steak, take it out of the fridge to temper the meat. Trim the steak if necessary and cut into two pieces. Coarsely crack the peppercorns. Sprinkle each side of the steaks with salt, then press each side into the cracked peppercorns, encrusting the steaks lightly or heavily as you prefer.

Heat the butter in a cast iron skillet over high heat and drizzle with the oil. When the surface is hot, lay the peppered steaks in. Sear for about 2 minutes per side; press with your finger to test for the springiness that indicates rare and then cook to your desired doneness and transfer to a warm platter, tenting loosely with foil.

Lower heat to the other side of the dial, take the skillet off the heat and add the shallots to the pan. Saute briefly, scraping at the drippings with a wooden spoon, and put the skillet back over the burner. Add the stout to deglaze, then add the stock and soy sauce. Adjusting the heat, bring the liquid back to a boil and cook to thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning. Finally, add the last tablespoon of butter, swirling it around in the pan until it melts and incorporates, then spoon the sauce over the steaks.

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