Steak au Poivre

Nothing like some good red meat washed down with some good red wine to feel fancy, right? (Well, unless you’re a vegetarian).

What’s amusing to me about the French word poivre (which means pepper) is that it’s one letter away from the word for pear: poire. Imagine all the ways this recipe might backfire if an unknowing English speaker made this subtle typo.

Steak au poivre is essentially a black-pepper encrusted steak. I used filet mignon because that’s what looked really good at the store, but you can use other cuts of meat as well. If you’re not a big pepper fan or you worry that the pepper crust will be too overwhelming, worry not. It pairs really nicely with red meat and helps to bring out the flavor of the meat. This dish is actually quite simple to prepare (unlike other fancy meat dishes I’ve tried such as this one or this one) but it delivers big time.

Steak au Poivre (inspired by Julia Child‘s Steak au Poivre)
Serves 2

– 2 small filets mignon
– 1-2 tablespoons black peppercorns (or multi-colored, if you have it)
– 1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
1. Dry the meat thoroughly in paper towels and let sit on a board while you prepare the peppercorns.

2. In a mortar and pestle (or using the bottom of a heavy skillet), crush the peppercorns so they are cracked and continue to grind until they are of a medium grain. Add the chopped rosemary and mix together. Rub and pat this mixture onto both sides of both steaks. Don’t be afraid to really nestle the seasoning in there. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes. Julia Child says this helps the pepper to really penetrate the meat.

3. Melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has stopped foaming, add the steaks. Let them be for about 5 minutes, then flip; cook for another 4-5 minutes.

4. At this point, if you were to remove the meat and let it hang out in a 200F degree oven for a couple minutes while you set the table, you’d have a medium-rare steak. If you like it more well done, transfer the whole skillet to a 200F degree oven for 3-7 more minutes. Sprinkle with some salt while hot and let the meat rest for a little bit before trying to slice it. Meat will continue to cook once it is off the heat.

5. Top with some goat cheese (or bleu cheese) and serve with some greens. Today I did some sauteed spinach and elephant garlic.

I’m not sure that using poires instead of poivre in this recipe would work out quite right–the liquid in the pears would probably keep the meat from browning properly, don’t you think? I do think, however, it would be worth exploring some sort of pear slaw or even pickled pears(?) as a garnish with which to top a steak au poivre. Then you’d have a steak au poivre avec poire, n’est-ce pas? It’s worth thinking about at least. I like this dish for its ability to be cooked indoors so that even in the winter I can have that fresh-off-the-grill seared taste on my plate.

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