An Easy and Elegant New Year’s Feast: Steak au Poivre



WE MEAT AGAIN A smart double-searing method produces a steak with a delectable caramelized crust and a succulent pink interior. Photo: Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Jamie Kimm, Prop Styling by Vanessa Vazquez

The Chef: Dave Beran

Illustration: MICHAEL HOEWELER

His Restaurants: Pasjoli and Dialogue, both in Santa Monica, Calif.

What He’s Known For: Matching classical technique with out-of-the-box thinking. French-leaning menus driven by Southern California produce.

THIS DISH HAS a powerful effect on chef Dave Beran. “Steak au poivre puts you in a place,” he said. “It makes you think of a dark French bistro.” At his own version of that place, Pasjoli in Santa Monica, Calif., the steak is served over a buttery potato purée and cloaked in a mushroom sauce au poivre.

flavor pairing ritual

Mr. Beran’s second Slow Food Fast recipe is simplified for home cooks without compromising on flavor. At Pasjoli, the potatoes take an hour to make. This version calls for simmering them in milk and cream for 20 minutes or so, then whipping them with lots of butter. The steak, covered in crushed peppercorns, gets a double sear, first over high heat to build a good crust, then over medium heat to cook through.

The mushroom sauce, heady with Cognac, gets a hit of crème fraîche at the end. “It brings acid, and you want the dairy taste to be fresh,” Mr. Beran said. Lush and savory, it’s the crowning glory on an absolute classic. “If I’m going to eat a steak,” the chef said, “this is definitely it.”

TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 4

4 (8-ounce) beef tenderloins

Kosher salt and crushed black peppercorns

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½-inch coins

8 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces, plus 3 tablespoons

1½ cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

3 sprigs thyme

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 shallot, thinly sliced

6 button mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons Cognac

½ cup crème fraîche

1. Generously salt steaks and press at least 3 tablespoons crushed peppercorns all over surface. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, combine potatoes, cream and enough milk to cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving cooking liquid.

2. Use an electric beater to whip potatoes with ½ cup cooking liquid until smooth, 30 seconds. Whip in 8 tablespoons butter until airy, 1-2 minutes. If dense, whip in more liquid. Season with salt.

3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Lay in meat and sear until both sides brown, about 6 minutes total. Remove meat from pan and let rest 5 minutes. Set pan over medium heat. Once hot, return steaks and finish cooking, flipping often, until medium-rare, 3-5 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.

4. Pour fat out of pan but don’t wipe it clean. Set over medium heat and add remaining butter, thyme, garlic, shallots and a large pinch of crushed peppercorns. Sauté until shallots soften, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add Cognac. Simmer to cook off alcohol, 1-2 minutes. Discard herbs and garlic. Season with salt. Off heat, stir in crème fraîche.

5. Distribute potatoes among four plates. Top with tenderloins and spoon on sauce.

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Credit: WSJ.com: Lifestyle

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