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.

Creamed Spinach
Serves 2-4

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!


Posted on 29 April 2011, in French Fridays with Dorie, Meat CSA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I wasn’t crash hot on the sauce either!
    But gee your spinach and potatoes look so good!

  2. Your dinner plate looks great! Love your spinach and potatoes. Sorry you didn’t care for the sauce…we enjoyed it.

  3. Okay, I laughed about the potholder. I hope you don’t hold that against me. :P I had the same issue with the smoke too and had to open my kitchen door to get some out of the house! Oh well, still a great steak! Yours looks delicious!

  4. Oooh! I’ve had a potholder go up in flames before. Hate that. Your steak looks perfect on the plate!

  5. What a perfectly beautiful mean…nice post and glad all turned out well for you.

  6. Love that you get your meat from the CSA! Even the cat was confused at the smoking pan over at my house. I need to get a cast iron skillet like yours!

  7. I like that you’re going to use the technique again. And, thanks for posting the creamed spinach sauce!

  8. I feel as though Dorie taught me how to cook a steak this week because the results were so perfect. For that matter, she taught me how to do the scallops too :) We loved this recipe in our house and my guys want it again ASAP. Nana skipped this week but heard such good things from my house that she will revisit it. Nice to know it works well with non filet- your cut looks gorgeous.

  9. This was one smoky cooking operation, I was lucky to be able to cook the steak and set the sauce on fire outside a safe distance from my smoke alarm.
    Your steak dinner looks like it came out just perfect, yum, I’m sure you enjoyed it;-)

  10. I have almost caught some of my potholders and kitchen towels on fire – so scary. Glad everything was okay. Your dinner looks wonderful. I didn’t do this recipe, but you make me want to make it so I can learn try the technique. I love using my cast iron skillets because they always make a great sear. I have got to try your creamed spinach recipe!

  11. Your steak looks and sounds wonderful. You made good use of your CSA box. This is my first visit to your site and I decided to spend some time exploring and poking through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you feature here and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  12. Those silly potholders. You think they would make them heat proof :-)
    Looks great – especially that big pile of spinach. MMMMM

  13. We had a lot of smoke, too, but no flaming pot holders, thank goodness! I didn’t flame the cognac, as I’d already set the fire alarm off…

    I love the sides you chose and think it’s wonderful that you used your CSA meat, rather than buying the called for cut.

  14. Fabulous steak, and I must try out those potatoes …

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