Martha Stewart Living (October 2009)
On summer evenings, you're very likely to find us out on the patio, keeping watch while a big, juicy steak sizzles on the grill. We keep it extremely simple: salt and pepper, maybe a little Dale's.
But it's fall now. It's getting dark earlier and our grill's been cool for a while. It's time for a more grown-up steak, something a little fancier, more refined.
Hello, steak au poivre!
This really is a sophisticated, adult steak, with deep, dark, intense flavors. The spicy heat from the different varieties of peppercorns goes great with the bold, sweet balsamic reduction.
A word about the peppercorns: Martha calls for sourcing three different kinds. We made things easier on ourselves by using the "Savory 4 Pepper Blend" from Trader Joe's, a mix of black, white, green and pink peppercorns.
Anyway, this steak is a knockout that feels just right for this time of year. And since you make the balsamic reduction while the steak is cooling, the whole thing can be on the table in about 20 minutes.
It's the perfect way to say au revoire to the backyard grill and bonsoir to au poivre!
(This photo: Martha Stewart Living)
A hot, crunchy peppercorn crust makes steak au poivre one of the best beef dishes ever created. Here, a blend of heat, aroma, and fruitiness is formed by three kinds of peppercorns: green, classic black, and Szechuan, with its woodsy tang.
• 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
• 2 tablespoons dried whole green peppercorns
• 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns (kalustyans.com)
• 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
• 4 boneless New York strip (shell) steaks (about 6 ounces each; 1/2 inch thick), room temperature
• Coarse salt
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Crush peppercorns and coriander with a mortar and pestle, or with the bottom of a heavy skillet. Spread onto a large dish or a baking sheet.
2. Season steaks with salt, and coat both sides with ground peppercorn mixture by patting into flesh. Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Sear steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven, and cook steaks about 6 minutes, for medium-rare.
3. Remove steaks from skillet, and let rest for 10 minutes, reserving juices. Meanwhile, wipe out skillet. Add vinegar, and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Swirl in reserved steak juices, and the butter. Slice steaks, and serve with sauce.