Steak Au Poivre

Serves 2 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: Approx. 15 minutes

2 beef tenderloin steaks, 6-8 ounces each (not more than 1/2 inches thick)
Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup Cognac or bourbon (reserve 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before cooking. Lightly salt the steaks.

With a mortar and pestle, crush the peppercorns. (Alternately you can use a heavy pan to crush them.)

Spread the crushed peppercorns on a plate or tray and coat the meat by pressing into the pepper. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat until 1/4 teaspoon of water dropped in forms a ball. Quickly dry the skillet with a paper towel and then add the butter and olive oil.

When the oil just begins to smoke, put steaks in the pan. Cook approximately 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare (1-inch thick steak).
When the steaks reach the desired doneness, remove to a warmed plate, cover loosely and set aside.

Away from the stove and heat, pour off the excess fat from the pan and add the Cognac. Carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match, gently shaking the pan until the flame is out.

Place the pan over medium heat and add the cream or half and half. Bring to a boil and whisk about 5-6 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and add salt to taste. Return steaks to the pan, gently spooning sauce over steaks.

Serve atop warmed plates with vegetables of your choice on the side.

yum Food & Fun, February/March, page 78