Sunday, May 31, 2009

Anniversary Dinner: Steak Au Poivre and Risotto Cakes

I wanted to make something special for our anniversary, so I decided to make Steak Au Poivre. This was on the menu at the restaurant I used to work at and it was always delicious. It is essentially filet mignons (I used NY Strips) covered in fresh cracked black pepper served, seared and served with a delicious brandy cream sauce. I added a little fresh thyme to the sauce as well. I had leftover risotto from the night before that I needed to use up and thought making it into risotto cakes would be a good way to use it and it was! Leftover risotto is never as good the next day as when you make it fresh, but turning it into cakes makes it an entirely different dish altogether. *Warning: This sauce uses alcohol that you ignite, causing a flame. Please be careful and prepared.

Steak Au Poivre
4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
Kosher salt
a lot of cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup Brandy, plus 1 teaspoon
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup half and half

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt. Spread a bunch of fresh cracked pepper onto a plate, at least 2 tablespoons. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.

Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup brandy to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. (Please be careful and also be prepared. This does create a flame, and it was bigger than I thought it would be. My actual fire alarm went off for a few seconds.) Gently shake the pan until the flames die.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the thyme leaves and the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of brandy and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.

Risotto Cakes
2 cups leftover risotto
Panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Form the risotto into 4 cakes (like a burger patty or crab cake). On a plate, lay out an even layer of breadcrumbs. Run the cakes through the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. In a nonstick skillet, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place the risotto cakes in the pan and cook on both sides until golden brown; just a few minutes. Any leftover risotto can be used. The cakes are great plain or topped with a tomato sauce, pesto, etc.

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