NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 26, 2012

Pepper steak is a festive choice

By Linda Gassenheimer
The Miami Herald

---- — A perfect quick dinner for the holiday season is steak au poivre, French for steak with pepper sauce. I used a small piece of beef tenderloin, but any other quick-cooking steak — strip, rib-eye, skirt or flank — can be used.

The accompanying pepper and mushroom sauce uses shallots, a mild-flavored member of the onion family. Shallots break down as they cook, making a smoother sauce than their onion cousins. Red or white onions could be substituted.

The potatoes only take a few minutes in a microwave.

WINE SUGGESTION:

Merlot, which can be nicely rich and peppery itself, would make a fine match.

HELPFUL HINTS:

The quickest way to wash watercress is to place it head first into a bowl of water. Leave for a minute, then lift out and shake dry.

Cracked pepper can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.

COUNTDOWN:

Make potatoes

Make steak

SHOPPING LIST:

To buy: 1 pound red potatoes, 1 bottle crushed rosemary, 1 bunch watercress, ¾ pound beef tenderloin (or strip steak, rib eye, flank steak, skirt steak), 2 medium-size shallots, 1 jar cracked pepper, ¼ pound sliced button mushrooms, 1 small carton light cream and 1 can olive oil spray.

Staples: Brandy, minced garlic, salt and peppercorns.

STEAK AU POIVRE (STEAK WITH PEPPER AND MUSHROOM SAUCE)

Serves: 2

4 cups watercress, washed and large stems discarded

Olive oil spray

1/2 tablespoon cracked pepper

3/4 pound beef tenderloin, fat removed

2 medium-size shallots, chopped (¼ cup)

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 pound sliced button mushrooms, (1 ½ cups)

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons light cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Divide watercress between two dinner plates and set aside.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil. Press cracked pepper onto both sides of steak and add to skillet. Brown 2 minutes; turn and brown the second side 2 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Lower heat to medium and add shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Saute 2 minutes. Return steak and cook until done, 5 minutes for 3-inch thick tenderloin (3 minutes for thinner flank steak). A thermometer should read 145 degrees for medium rare, 160 degrees for medium.

Add brandy and cook a few seconds. Place steak on bed of watercress.

Add cream to skillet and stir to combine with mushrooms and shallots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over steak and serve with potatoes.

GARLIC ROSEMARY POTATOES

Serves: 2

1 pound red potatoes

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Olive oil spray

2 teaspoons crushed rosemary

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash potatoes (do not peel), and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high 2 minutes. Remove and add garlic.

Cover and microwave 3 more minutes. Test to see if potatoes are cooked. They should be soft through. Add another minute if needed.

Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.