As the Fourth of July approaches, it seems like all the focus is on foods to grill and why not? Grilling is as American as the Stars and Stripes, and many of us grew up watching the family “grillmaster” cook up burgers, hot dogs and steaks on a hot summer afternoon. While I like to grill, it is a cooking method that have not come even close to mastering. I tend to overcook the food on the grill, but I keep trying to get it right. One of the grill’s best features (as far as I’m concerned) is that it allows you to cook outside, which means I don’t have to heat up the kitchen on a sweltering day.
But this is the reason that I built a summer kitchen at the cottage. It allows me to take the cooking and baking outside during the summer and it’s wonderful. While I could throw steaks on the grill, I feel much more comfortable on one of my stoves, where I know I can totally control the heat. So when we decided it was going to be “stove cooked” steaks, my thoughts went back to Paris where I enjoyed steak au poivre.
If you are a grillmaster, I believe you could prepare this steak on a grill, but I wasn’t about to attempt that method. Steak au poivre features beef slathered in Dijon mustard, encrusted with coarsely crushed peppercorns and then seared in butter in a heavy skillet and finished in a hot oven. Once the raw steaks are ready for the skillet, the whole thing moves rather quickly to deliver a medium rare to medium cooked steak.
The mustard and the peppercorns add sharpness and texture to the succulent steak – no need for sauce! If you don’t like things that are really peppery, then this may not be for you. But if you are a pepper fan, and want to change up the way you experience a steak, give this one a try…no grill required!
Steak au Poivre
½ cup black peppercorns, roughly crushed
4 New York strip steaks (about an inch thick) at room temperature
Salt or seasoned salt
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP olive oil
Take your steaks out of the fridge 45 minutes to an hour before you prepare them – you want them to come up to room temperature. In the meantime, prepare the peppercorns. I do this by putting in two batches where I put the peppercorns in a zip freezer bag and then take a rolling pin over them to coarsely crush them. You could use a meat mallet or some other method – the key is to have them coarse.
Once the steaks are at room temperature, season them with salt on both sides. Then apply a liberal amount of Dijon mustard (don’t substitute – it won’t be the same) to one side of the steak and apply lots of crushed peppercorns – they will adhere to the mustard. Repeat on the other side of steak. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Heat your skillet – use a cast iron or stainless steel pan here (non-sticks will not hold up to this heat). Put butter and olive oil in the skillet and let melt completely. It is important to have the skillet hot – you want the meat to begin to sear the moment it enters the pan. Depending on your pan and the heat of the burner, you will want to sear the steaks for 3-4 minutes on each side. You should be able to see a nice crust develop with the peppercorns. After the second side of the steaks have seared, transfer pan immediately to the hot oven. Depending on the “doneness” you prefer, finish steaks in oven anywhere from 3 minutes to 7 minutes. Remove from oven – be very careful as the skillet will be extremely hot. Let steaks rest for a few minutes (remove from skillet if you want to keep them from continuing to cook) and serve.