France Part 1
Steak Au Proivre
I just came back from a week in France and so I had to write a blog about French cuisine and my experience this last week.
First of all I love France, viva la France! I love the fashion, the pulse of the city, and I love the French people- especially the new friends we met on our stay.
We ate at some pretty amazing places. The first night out we ate at a little spot across from our hotel. It was a bunch of us, so our ordering was eclectic. I had caprese salad and steak and frites. I loved the way they cut the potatoes at this spot, they looked like they had been scooped out of a potato in thick shavings.
Another highlight of my culinary experience was this restaurant we went to called Chez Julien. The bunch of us had a private room upstairs. I had for a starter, a foie gras terrine with black truffles and fig compote. For main course I had steak au proivre, its filet mignon with a peppercorn sauce usually served with pomme frites, or shoestring fried potatoes…. Amazing! Dessert was an incredible crème brule with sautéed apples on the bottom. The dinner was relaxing and everyone had a great time, leaving with their cheeks flushed from French champagne and good food.
Today I will give you a recipe for steak au proivre, a staple of French eating. Steak au proivre is a classic French dish using usually filet mignon cuts of beef. The beef is crusted with roughly cracked black peppercorns and seared on a pan and finished in the oven for desired temperature. The sauce served with the steak is made using cognac reduced in the pan used to sear the steaks, and cream as a base. Shallots or djon mustard can be added to the sauce. An easy and delicious dinner for any occasion!
Steak Au Proivre with Pomme Frites
Steak Au Proivre
4 boneless beef filet steaks, about 3-4 inches thick
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy
3/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt.
Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks.
Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.
Transfer steaks as cooked to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven while making sauce.
Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (2 tablespoons) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated. Serve sauce with steaks.
4-6 Baking potatoes cut into thin matchstick strips (About 1/4 wide and 1.5 inches long.)
1-2Tbls Potato starch
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt, to taste
Soak the potatoes for 10 minutes in cold water. Drain.
Dry potatoes in a salad spinner or with paper towels.
Toss potatoes with potato starch. (Available at most large markets and Asian groceries.) The potato starch changes the dynamics of frying in peanut oil as it provides a dry starch surface rather than a wet, potato starch surface.
Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees and fry using tongs to separate the potato strips.
When well browned, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. (If your frying temperature was correct, there should be virtually no oil on the paper towels.)
Toss gently in a bowl with sea salt and serve warm.
There will be more good eating stories in part two of my France blog….