French Fridays with Dorie: Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie taught me an new technique for cooking a steak. At our house, steak is always grilled or broiled. We never have it any other way. However, I tried Dorie’s way of making steak, bistro-style.
The steak is rubbed with a generous amount of coarsely crushed peppercorns (I didn’t have Sarawak, but used India Tellicherry from Penzeys Spices) and then seared in a hot cast-iron skillet with a little added butter and olive oil. Dorie’s recipe called for filet mignon, but I try to eat only meat whose provenance I know, so I used a thick boneless sirloin steak from our CSA share from Chestnut Farms. I’m sure the sirloin wasn’t as tender as filter, but it didn’t ruffle my conscience.
Searing the steak was rather smoky. Even running the exhaust fan on high couldn’t keep the smoke at bay. It didn’t help that the potholder caught on fire. I also made the brandy cream sauce, choosing to ignite the brandy, which seemed like a more fun option than boiling it down. It turned out that the flavor of the sauce wasn’t for me. Overall, I did like this recipe.
For me, my takeaway from this recipe was similar to the Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce. I learned a new cooking technique that I will use again, even though I won’t repeat the accompanying sauce.
For accompaniment, I made my new favorite potato recipe: Roasted Potatoes (from The Essential New York Times Cookbook) and the classic steakhouse vegetable side, Creamed Spinach. It was a hearty and delicious meal.
As a bonus recipe, here’s my version of Creamed Spinach. I’m always surprised by how cooking drastically reduces the volume of greens. This dish is rich, so it goes farther than it looks like it will.
1 lb fresh spinach, coarse stems discarded, torn into 1-2 inch pieces, washed very well, and drained
½ small onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter
¼ cup heavy cream (also works with light cream or half-and-half)
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Saute the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, with any clinging water. Stir to distribute onion throughout the spinach. Turn up the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Stir in cream and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Check out how my fellow FFwD bloggers interpreted this week’s recipe here. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. You’re always welcome to join in the fun!