Recipe by Nancy Johnson
Wine Commentary by Gary Twining
Searing steaks with freshly ground peppercorns is a fast and easy way to serve an elegant entrée to guests. In this recipe, 1-inch-thick beef filets are used, but you may use any steak of your choice. For an elegant presentation, spoon the sauce on the plate, add steak and drizzle sauce over top. Garnish with sprigs of watercress. If you don’t like too much pepper, just lightly season the steak. It won’t be au poivre, but it will still be tasty.
1 TBS freshly ground peppercorns, or to taste
4 beef filet mignon, each about 1 inch thick
2 TBS butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Watercress, for garnish
Press pepper onto both sides of steak. In large skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add steaks and sauté until medium rare (155°F), about 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to serving platter. Keep warm. Remove skillet from heat; stir brandy and beef broth into pan drippings. Place over medium heat and cook, scraping up browned bits. Stir in heavy whipping cream and mustard. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about 1/2 cup and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Serve sauce with steak. Garnish with watercress. Serves 4.
Gary: The intensity of the peppercorns calls for a flavorful red that will not be overpowered by the spice, though high alcohol will increase the heat of the peppercorns. The heavy cream in the sauce will help quell some of the spice of this dish. A full-bodied Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône will echo black pepper in its flavors. Syrah/Shiraz from the Northern Rhône, California or Australia, Mourvèdre/Monastrell, Petit Syrah, youthful Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Zinfandel are excellent pairings. Look also to cool-climate reds such as Bordeaux and Barolo that are very f