Steak au poivre

Miss me? I took most of December off from almost everything except cooking. It was wonderful. I have to get myself motivated again but probably not until after Saturday when Dammit Boy flies the coop once again, this time to move to Vienna for six months. That would not be VI-ENA as in Georgia. That would be the better one in Austria.

I realize that you don’t want your 25-year-old living at home. Although he’s certainly made himself at home for the last two weeks. He unpacked his drinking glasses and put them in my cupboard. Ditto his coffee cups. He re-gifted me the cast iron pan I gifted him when he moved to Monterey for grad school. He brought home the ceramic knives I bought him and books for which he requested his own shelf on the den bookcase.

And now he’s leaving us – and many of his possessions stored in his bedroom closet – to go to stinky old Vienna. Who does that?

But I digress.

So first there was the English Tea. That was a lot of cooking. It went well. I think we have this thing down now just in time to start training some youngsters to take it over. I’m going to be just slightly embarrassed when I have to hand over my Super Secret recipe for chicken salad that actually comes from Costco.

Then there was the holiday breakfast/lunch/supper for the entire staff at Barnes and Noble. What was I thinking? Food for 60 people that had to be sturdy enough to sit at room temperature all day. And there were vegans. It went well. Too well. I think they want me to do it again next year. This time, I had Noah to help. Next year he might be negotiating the newest SALT Treaty and, therefore, unable to assist me with breakfast casseroles.

And I have been busy feeding Noah with all of the favorites unavailable to him outside the South. There was the ceremonial first-day-home trip to Waffle House for a Philly CheeseĀ  Steak and the Patty Melt at Steak ‘n Shake. Catfish Friday at Bishop’s and a visit to Sonic.

Last night, it was Julia Child’s Steak au Poivre to usher in the new year.Today it’s greens, ribs and black-eyed pea salsa to get our good luck going for 2018. I know that boy will eat well in Vienna. But there’s no place like home.

Steak au Poivre

4 filet mignons, about 1 1/2 inches thick

2 tablespoons whole peppercorns, roughly ground


1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1/3 cup Cognac (or other brandy)

1/2 cup beef stock

3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


Press both sides of each steak with the peppercorns and let rest for up to 3 hours. Apply a generous sprinkling of salt.

Heat the oil and the butter in a heavy saute or frying pan over high heat. When the pan is quite hot, add the peppered steaks. Fry for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the undersides are well seared. Turn the meat and cook the second side for about a minute. Press with a finger to test for the slight springiness that indicates rare. Cook to the desired doneness and transfer to a warm platter

Make the pan sauce. Drain the pan of excess oil/butter and return it to medium heat. Add the shallots and saute briefly, stirring with a spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet. Add the Cognac and cook for a few minutes. Then add the beef stock. Bring the liquid back to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Off the heat, swirl in the butter one tablespoon at a time.

Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.

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