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toni

Peppercorn steak revisited

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I'm hoping you knowledgeable people can help me once again. Tomorrow I'm planning on cooking peppercorn steak for 8 people. Last time I told you I was cooking 5 New York strips and I had to cook them in shifts in the cast iron pan. Do any of you cook for several people and how do you handle the feat? I know that the brown bits left in the pan after searing are what makes a great peppercorn sauce, so I'm wondering if I could sear the steaks in shifts ahead of when my guests get here, set the steaks aside, and then combine the accumulated brown bits to make the sauce. Now, when the people are here, could I put the steaks in the oven to finish the cooking? Or should I forget this menu idea for this many? Because of your helpful advice a couple weeks ago, this dish will be a keeper. I so appreciate any comments and hope you're not tired of one more question. Thank you in advance. :smile:

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I'm hoping you knowledgeable people can help me once again. Tomorrow I'm planning on cooking peppercorn steak for 8 people.  Last time I told you I was cooking 5 New York strips and I had to cook them in shifts in the cast iron pan.  Do any of you cook for several people and how do you handle the feat?  I know that the brown bits left in the pan after searing are what makes a great peppercorn sauce, so I'm wondering if I could sear the steaks in shifts ahead of when my guests get here, set the steaks aside, and then combine the accumulated brown bits to make the sauce.  Now, when the people are here, could I put the steaks in the oven to finish the cooking?  Or should I forget this menu idea for this many?  Because of your helpful advice a couple weeks ago, this dish will be a keeper. I so appreciate any comments and hope you're not tired of one more question.  Thank you in advance.  :smile:

Buy another cast iron pan. I assume your oven has two shelves in it to accommodate two pans at once. Afterwards, you can deglaze one pan into the other, and make the sauce for all steaks in one pan.

doc

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or roast a whole strip,,then let it rest and make the sauce in the roasting pan. you could do this an hour before guests arrive then just rewarm roast in the oven.

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I make a Beef Bourguignon using thick slices of beef tenderloin. I brown the meat quickly, leaving it very rare and then heat it up in the sauce just just before serving. I don't see why you couldn't do the same thing with the New York Strips and the peppercorn sauce. Just be careful not to overcook. YOu are still going to want your steaks on the rare to medium rare side.

I also like Iriee's suggestion of roasting a whole strip loin. The strip loin is one of my favourite "roast' cuts.

Ann

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Make beef stock today, and, once it's chilled/defatted, make the sauce (use the beef fat for caramelizing the onions).

Do you have a grill that can accommodate 8 NY strips? That would be easiest. The bits that end up in the pan are nice, but it's not the end of the world if you lose them by grilling rather than pan frying. The stock you make today will suffice. All the wonderful flavors that end up in fond are the same components that end up in stock (if you make the stock correctly by roasting the bones/whatever meat is attached).

If you don't have a large enough grill, I'd take deltadoc's suggestion and obtain a second pan.

Get to the market, buy those bones and start that stock. If you can achieve a great stock today, your sauce will be wonderful tomorrow, fond or no fond. Having the sauce made in advance will also give you a little more peace of mind.


Edited by scott123 (log)

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Great advice everyone! When I made stock 2 weeks ago, I froze some, so I will use that to make the sauce. I am so glad that you said I could make the sauce ahead. Is it okay to even add the heavy cream ahead? I am going to take your advice from before and not add too much cream. Great idea of using the beef fat for caramelizing the onions. Is it okay to have shallots and onion in it?

As far as the grill, we have the gas grill outside. Is that okay? It can definitely handle 8 steaks, and I am so happy if you think that will be fine in place of searing on the stove.

I think I will try a whole strip next time and check out the time it takes to get to medium so I will have a better gage for when I serve it for company. Thank you so much everyone. I feel better!

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I'm afraid I must disagree with a few of the other posters. You cannot successfully reheat steaks in sauce with good results, as you can (what is essentially a stew, such as) boeuf bourgignon. And, a stock based brown sauce is not a deglaze. It is, in fact, a very different animal.

I think the consensus that you cannot cook your steaks in the same pan, then do the sauce after is correct. The crystalized sugars and fond from the first set of steaks will burn while the second set are browning.

While you can do two pans worth, you really want to ask yourself whether this is the appropriate choice for dinner for eight. Generally, steak in a green peppercorn deglaze is considered fare for two. As dinner for four it's ambitious. It would present a moderately sized restaurant with problems if six people at the same table ordered it.

Serving a roast rather than steak, with a stock based sauce rather than a deglaze might be a better idea in that you'll be able to spend time with your guests instead of trapping yourself in the kitchen during the time they're eating the starter courses. IMHO Steak for a large number of people is best done on the grill where the antics of the host are an important part of the hilarity and bonhomie.

If you want to try and split the difference, strip or tenderloin roasts (to name two) can be pan roasted very successfully; you could make your deglaze while the roasts rested, prepratory to carving, between the salad and main courses; carve at the table and pass the sauce. I've done this -- the timing is a little tough. You'll be fretting during the starters, and up from the table early. And the guests will have to wait a bit. But if it's a foodie crowd -- no problem. It's worth it.

A roast would be less stressful and probably more successful. It's not too late to pick up a strip, a tenderloin, or, easiest of all a 4 bone prime rib. You can retain your foodie cred by mashing some parsnips or rutabaga into the potatoes. Serve with a bordelaise and enjoy the party.

Good luck,

Rich

ON EDIT -- SOUNDS LIKE you figured out a way to split the differences already. Weather permitting, the grill is the perfect solution. You can make a reduced sauce with cream early and reheat without untoward consequencesw -- but don't expect it to be anything like your pan sauce.

At the risk of sounding dogmatic, I recommend a bordelaise adaptation which is very successful.

"Barbecue Bordelaise:" 2 C beef stock into a sauce pan and 2 C red wine. Bring to boil over high heat. While sauce is coming to the boil, finely mince 4 - 6 cloves of garlic and add to sauce. Allow sauce to come to rolling boil and reduce heat to simmer, then add 2 tbs ketchup, 1 tbs worcestershire sauce, 1 tbs dijon mustard. Reduce sauce by half. Cut 3/4 stick of very cold butter into 6 tbs pats. Add three pats of butter, one pat at a time, whisking vigorously, and adding each successive pat just before previous pat is completely incorporated. Take sauce off heat and final three pats in the same way, allowing retained to melt the butter, adjust for salt.

-R


Edited by boar_d_laze (log)

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I'm afraid I must disagree with a few of the other posters.  You cannot successfully reheat steaks in sauce with good results, as you can (what is essentially a stew, such as) boeuf bourgignon.  And, a stock based brown sauce is not a deglaze.  It is, in fact, a very different animal. 

Just to clarify the Beef Bourgignon that I make is not a stew. It is thick slices of beef tenderloin, browned and then served in a wine sauce. It is actually one of Julia Child's recipes and I have followed her advice on preparing the dish up to the point of browning the tenderloin and making the sauce in advance and then just reheating the meat in the sauce over a low heat for three or four minutes. As long as you don't over cook the meat to begin with you will have lovely rare beef.

Ann

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I agree completely with boar_d_laze. You don't want to reheat your steak, or roast it, BBQing is a whole different beast, as is stock vs a deglaze.

I have done steak au poivre for six. It can be stressful if you don't have friends who enjoy the process :biggrin: I served a lovely beet salad first, then we went back to the kitchen and did the steaks in 2 pans, which worked out just fine. But I prefer using 3/4" boneless rib-eyes, and I make a very quick balsamic reduction for the sauce.

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Ann,

Sorry for the confusion. I'm used to thinking of boeuf bourguignon as a slow cooked stew with onions, carrots, red wine, etc. The boeuf bourguignon in Mastering the Art I is a version of the typical stew. I'm unfamiliar with the Julia Childs' version to which you refer.

Yours sounds like a different sort of take on it than what I'm used to. I.e., cook everything separately and assemble at the last moment; use tenderloin. Sounds like the technique is similar to a classic Stroganoff. Where's it from? Julia and Company? I'd be very interested in the recipe. Even a very basic precis without ingredient amounts would be nice.

Thanks,

Rich

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No problem Rich. I understand where the confusion comes from. I usually think of Boeuf bourguignon as a stew as well.

The recipe is in Volume I of Mastering the Art of French Cooking - " Saute de boeuf a' la Bourguignonne". Page 326.

I've made this from start to finish and served it immediately, and I've made it earlier in the day, as per Julia Child's instructions and it doesn't suffer from being prepared in advance. Because it can be prepared ahead of time, it is a great recipe for a dinner party.

Ann

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I'm afraid I must disagree with a few of the other posters.  You cannot successfully reheat steaks in sauce with good results, as you can (what is essentially a stew, such as) boeuf bourgignon.  And, a stock based brown sauce is not a deglaze.  It is, in fact, a very different animal. 

Just to clarify the Beef Bourgignon that I make is not a stew. It is thick slices of beef tenderloin, browned and then served in a wine sauce. It is actually one of Julia Child's recipes and I have followed her advice on preparing the dish up to the point of browning the tenderloin and making the sauce in advance and then just reheating the meat in the sauce over a low heat for three or four minutes. As long as you don't over cook the meat to begin with you will have lovely rare beef.

Ann

What you are referring to, I am afraid, is not boeuf bourguignon which is a stew, but steak a la bordelaise (in a wine sauce). Quite different.

Personally I would stay away from steak au poivre for 8 and go the stew route. Boeuf bourguignon, boeuf carotte, blanquette de veau...all are easy handle and very tasty. Just my opinion.

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And, a stock based brown sauce is not a deglaze.  It is, in fact, a very different animal.

I agree completely with boar_d_laze.  You don't want to reheat your steak, or roast it, BBQing is a whole different beast, as is stock vs a deglaze.

I'm sorry but you're both wrong. What's in stock that isn't in fond? Rien. Nada. Nothing. With stock you brown bones/bits of meat at a high temp, the collagen/amino acids form a fond in the pan, you deglaze it with water, combine everything in a stockpot and simmer for 12 or more hours. With fond, you pan fry the steak, collagen and amino acids are released, and you deglaze the bits that stick on. The only difference is simmering. Simmering actually gives you a greater depth of flavor due to the maillard reactions occurring during the prolonged exposure to heat. Simmering will also extract more collagen, providing a more unctuous mouthfeel than deglazing. Neither the greater depth of flavor nor the increased collagen output differentiates stock from deglazing, though. They are both the same animals.

Pan drippings + water = reduced stock

Collagen, amino acids and maillard reactions. All of the building blocks that make up wonderful sauces.

Maggie, if you read my initial post, I never recommended re-heating meat. As far as BBQing differing from pan frying... with both you've got intense, quick-cooking heat, resulting in browning and the formation of a crust. I'm not talking about mesquite chips here. I'm referring to two ways that provide a lot of heat to a steak in a short amount of time. Other than the obvious grill marks, the two methods are not that different.

Toni, shallots vs. onions is a subjective thing. Shallots are traditional. I just happen to love caramelized onions with beef. If you like shallots, saute those in the beef fat. I don't think I'd do both, though.

Cream is fine added ahead.

If you're going to grill, make sure you have a full tank of propane. If you run out in the middle of grilling, you're up a creek. Believe me, I know :)

If you have the steaks already, remove them from the packaging so they dry out a bit. Tomorrow morning, flip them so the other side dries out a bit. If you had another day, that would have helped as well. This is kind of a DIY semi-dry aging. It does amazing things for the crust. The drier the exterior, the better the crust. For people that like their steaks rare, go straight from the fridge to a blazingly hot pre-heated grill. That will give you good exterior color with a red middle. For those that like medium, remove the steaks from the fridge about an hour or two before cooking and let them come to room temp. Done like this, the rare and the medium steaks finish in about the same time.

Btw, the quality of the sauce is almost directly proportional to the quantity of stock you add. Are you sure you have plenty of frozen stock? You want a LOT of stock, which you then reduce the crap out of. It's not a thick as a demi-glace, but you still want a concentrated, full flavored end product.


Edited by scott123 (log)

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And, a stock based brown sauce is not a deglaze.  It is, in fact, a very different animal.

I agree completely with boar_d_laze.  You don't want to reheat your steak, or roast it, BBQing is a whole different beast, as is stock vs a deglaze.

I'm sorry but you're both wrong. What's in stock that isn't in fond? Rien. Nada. Nothing. With stock you brown bones/bits of meat at a high temp, the collagen/amino acids form a fond in the pan, you deglaze it with water, combine everything in a stockpot and simmer for 12 or more hours. With fond, you pan fry the steak, collagen and amino acids are released, and you deglaze the bits that stick on. The only difference is simmering. Simmering actually gives you a greater depth of flavor due to the maillard reactions occurring during the prolonged exposure to heat. Simmering will also extract more collagen, providing a more unctuous mouthfeel than deglazing. Neither the greater depth of flavor nor the increased collagen output differentiates stock from deglazing, though. They are both the same animals.

Pan drippings + water = reduced stock

Collagen, amino acids and maillard reactions. All of the building blocks that make up wonderful sauces.

Maggie, if you read my initial post, I never recommended re-heating meat. As far as BBQing differing from pan frying... with both you've got intense, quick-cooking heat, resulting in browning and the formation of a crust. I'm not talking about mesquite chips here. I'm referring to two ways that provide a lot of heat to a steak in a short amount of time. Other than the obvious grill marks, the two methods are not that different.

Toni, shallots vs. onions is a subjective thing. Shallots are traditional. I just happen to love caramelized onions with beef. If you like shallots, saute those in the beef fat. I don't think I'd do both, though.

Cream is fine added ahead.

If you're going to grill, make sure you have a full tank of propane. If you run out in the middle of grilling, you're up a creek. Believe me, I know :)

If you have the steaks already, remove them from the packaging so they dry out a bit. Tomorrow morning, flip them so the other side dries out a bit. If you had another day, that would have helped as well. This is kind of a DIY semi-dry aging. It does amazing things for the crust. The drier the exterior, the better the crust. For people that like their steaks rare, go straight from the fridge to a blazingly hot pre-heated grill. That will give you good exterior color with a red middle. For those that like medium, remove the steaks from the fridge about an hour or two before cooking and let them come to room temp. Done like this, the rare and the medium steaks finish in about the same time.

Btw, the quality of the sauce is almost directly proportional to the quantity of stock you add. Are you sure you have plenty of frozen stock? You want a LOT of stock, which you then reduce the crap out of. It's not a thick as a demi-glace, but you still want a concentrated, full flavored end product.

No, no, you weren't the post that mentioned re-heating the meat :smile:

I understand your points regarding stock vs deglazing. However, I thought the point of the question was could this rationally be done for a large number of people. I deglaze the pan, making a balsamic reduction, which is quick and easy, and very, very different from a sauce you'd make with stock. I'm not sure what sauce you guys are talking about, didn't ever see the recipe, but just thought this a good solution for the time and ease factor.

Although pan frying and grilling are very similar, I still maintain that grilled meat tastes a lot different. I don't always use wood chips, but I always grill over charcoal, never gas, and there is no way charcoal grilling tastes the same :smile:

As I said, I had success with steak au poivre for 6. I like to use thin, boneless rib-eyes. Not only are they wonderfully tender and juicy, but they cook up quickly in the pan, can be kept warm with out overcooking while you deglaze the pan and make the reduction. And I agree - I would not bother with this recipe for any more guests. A roast or stew or grilled steak makes much more sense.

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Maggie,

I assumed that Toni was originally going to deglaze with cognac, add cream, green peppercorns, and perhaps the odd aromatic, and reduce -- et voila!

I'm not sure what sauce Scott's talking about either. There aren't any compound sauces with cream in my repertoire that don't rely on at least a demi-glace (or at least a "semi-demi-glace" a la Julia Childs). That's why, when I wrote to Toni, I used the term "brown sauce" when talking about stock-based sauces. As in brown sauce = sauce espagnole the mother of demi-glace. With cream, that's three concentrations by 50% reduction. A lot of trouble, a lot of time. Maybe I could go from stock to espagnole to demi-glace to cream/cognac green peppercorn sauce in about 2-1/2 hours paying attention and stirring.

At any rate, that's why I used the "brown" term, bad-mouthed the thought, and recommended a bordelaise variation requiring a single reduction. I was trying to be subtle enough to sort of steer her away from a stock based cream/ cognac/ peppercorn, give her a haut alternaive, and avoid getting too confrontational toward Scott. So much for sub-del.

On the other hand, my repertoire is by no means complete. Maybe Scott, or you, or someone else has a recipe for a beef stock-based green peppercorn sauce that doesn't require the intermediate steps and multiple reductions of espagnole to demi-glace to cognac/cream sauce.

Scott,

No offense meant. The Maillard reaction (aka "browning" or "carmelization") notwithstanding, in my experience, stock is not fond. Some of the major differences are stock is made with aromatics, fond is seasoned with the carmelized spices from the surface of the meat, stock is enriched with marrow, fond principally with blood, etc. Similarly, reduced stock is not fond. And even demi-glace, is not fond. More particularly, "pan" sauces built at very high heats are not the same as stock based sauces constructed with long "pot" simmering. A demi-glace (equal volumes of espagnole + brown beef or veal stock, reduced by half) based sauce can get you in the general direction of a deglaze -- a beef enriched nappe -- but not the same place. The two great know-it-alls, Tony Careme and Augie Escoffier, classified the two types of sauces differently. Even if there's some overlap in uses, fond and stock are distinct.

One never know, do one?

Rich


Edited by boar_d_laze (log)

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Interesting and excellent advice, y'all.

I prefer my steaks pan-cooked rather than grilled, every time, so I think that if I were you I'd simply lay out the (surely)<15 bucks on a second cast iron skillet.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

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Hi, everyone. I read and thought about everyone's responses before I made the peppercorn steak. I don't have time to reread all of the above suggestions/opinions right now in order thank each of you individually, but I want to let you all know how dinner turned out and how much I appreciated your help and support. Your responses to my questions definitely helped me. Here's basically what I did for dinner for 8: I used my defrosted beef stock and reduced it a bit (a little red wine was in it.) I had 8 N.Y. strips and I cooked 2 in the cast iron pan and the rest my husband grilled on the gas grill outside. (thank you weather for not raining!) I thought the pan-seared steaks would at least add a little of the browned bits in the sauce, but that may be foolish thinking for a sauce for 8. Anyway, I caramelized onion and added that to the heated stock and then I used a separate cast iron skillet to sear the 2 steaks 3 mins. on each side. My choice was to lightly brush olive oil on the steaks and then salt and pepper them before searing. (I don't know if you should salt and pepper before or after.) I then put them in my warming drawer at about 150 degrees while I sauteed some shallots in butter with cracked green peppercorns in the same saute pan I used for onions. I added the brandy and cooked down to almost dry. Here's where I had a big question. I probably should have added the brandy to the cast iron skillet to deglaze it, but I was nervous about adding just the brandy to the hot pan as I have a fear of fire. I slowly added the brandy to the shallot mixture. I added a little stock to the cast iron skillet, and stirred what little bits were in the botton of the pan. Then I added the shallot/peppercorn/brandy mixture and the rest of the stock into the skillet. I then heated through and added some heavy cream(only about 1/2 cup) and then cooked on medium heat to reduce down a bit. I don't think it ever reduced and it was bubbling as I whisked it. I probably cooked it this way for about 5 mins. I took it off the heat and added about 4 TBSP butter, a little at a time. It never thickened.

I put the sauce in the warming drawer, took out the steaks and put them in a 350 degree oven for about 12 mins. Do you think they should be about 150 degrees internal temp. with an instant therm. for medium? The steaks my husband grilled were excellent as were my 2. Oh, Scott 123, remember your caution about soup? With the juices that the steaks released (including the grilled ones my husband cooked) plus the thin sauce, it was steak surrounded by peppercorn soup. Again, however, it was so tasty. I remember you mentioning making an arrowroot slurry. Could you elaborate, please? How much arrowroot and would you mix it with a little of the sauce or the cream? I probably had about 3-4 cups of sauce when it finished.

Bottom line: It was great! My son, whom I was making it for after he told me he loved a peppercorn sauce at a restaurant ,said the sauce at the restaurant was definitely thicker but mine did taste good. My daughter, who did not like the taste of my sauce the first time I made it, said she loved it this time.

To everyone on this site: You all never cease to amaze me how you are so willing to give of your time and experience, and I hope you know you are so appreciated!!! :biggrin::biggrin: Toni

I forgot to mention, the sauce was finished and in the warming oven about 30 mins. before guests arrived and all I had to do was put the steaks in the preheated 350 degree oven a few mins. after they arrived. My husband's steaks came off about the same time. I am glad you steered me away from cooking all of the steaks on the stove. Insanity on that level will not be revisited.


Edited by toni (log)

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Toni,

Don't feel bad about not getting exactly what you hoped for. You got a lot of conflicting advice.

Your questions go to several basic cooking techniques:

If you want to make a stock-based cream/peppercorn sauce the traditional way is (a) use your stock to make a sauce espagnole; (b) use the espagnole plus stock to make a demi-glace; and © to use the demi-glace to make the cream/peppercorn sauce. A properly made demi-glace is already thick and velvety so the reduction to the proper consistency once you've added cream and the other flavorings is more or less routine. However, the process takes hours, not minutes -- unless you've made the demi-glace in advance and keep it hanging around in your freezer (a very good idea!); or buy commercially available demi-glace (less good). As far as I know there aren't good short cuts to this process.

If you're as interested in "mastering the art of French cooking" as you are in preparing particular dishes, it's worthwhile mastering espagnole, and the other five mother sauces. That having been said, it would not have been worth it for one smallish dinner party. There are other sauces requiring less time and stress.

FYI You can deglaze a hot pan with spirits without fear of fire by removing the pan from the stove before adding the spirit. Or, you can leave the pan on the stove if ALL the burners are off. At any rate, after a minute of sizzling from the residual heat while you mix it with the fond enough alcohol will have evaporated so that the mix can be safely returned to the fire. Personally, I like flambe and never miss the opportunity.

Back to the sauce: I'm not sure whether or not you could ever have achieved the texture you wanted by a straight reduction of stock plus cream. Probably -- but it would go something like reducing the stock by about 3/4, adding the cream, and reducing by another 1/2. Obviously, you didn't give your sauce the time necessary for an 8:1 reduction of the stock component. Nor should you.

The basic rule for to avoid lumps when using thickeners is "cold into hot." So, if you're thickening hot sauce -- one way to do so is to make a slurry with liquid and a starch thickener, such as flour, corn-starch, or arrowroot, using as little liquid as possible to still get a smooth slurry. This is usually in the neighborhood of a little less liquid by volume than starch. Your choice of flour, corn-starch, or arrowroot depends on what you want the sauce to look like, and how you plan to handle the sauce after you've made the addition of thickener.

Arrowroot provides the glossiest and most transparent finish, but is the most fragile. Once arrowroot has been added the sauce should not be subjected to high heat -- and certainly should not be boiled. Arrowroot sacues may fall apart after an hour or so no matter how gently they're handled. Arrowroot is especially suitable for acidic sauces.

You already know what flour thickened sauces look like. Flour doesn't really work it's thickening magic below the boil -- so, obviously you can do a lot of cooking once the flour's in. This means you can add a little, give it some time to do its thing, and if it's not enough add a little more, and so on. It also gives you the option of adding more liquid if you've over thickened, or making last minute additions of other ingredients. Flour is the most forgiving and flexible thickener.

Corn starch (and potato starch, for that matter) splits the difference. It also thickens at or near the boil, but corn-starch thickened sauces can't be held for too long at heat. They're substantially less fragile than arrowroot thickened sauces, except with acidic sauces (e.g., citrus) which will not hold together at all well.

In the particular case of your peppercorn sauce under pressure, it would have been better to thicken with a beurre manie rather than a slurry. Like demi-glace it's worth having beurre manie hanging around your freezer or refrigerator. Make it by kneading 4 oz flour thoroughly into 8 oz butter; use saran wrap to roll the mixture into two logs; wrap in saran and freeze. Add to sauces by cutting off 1 tbs sized pieces and whisking in at the boil. 1 tbs of beurre manie will thicken 1-1/2 C of loose sacue into a nappe. Beurre manie is an incredible culinary band-aid which rescues many a sauce. It's really a good thing to have around.

Finally, it's not a good idea to let steaks 1" thick or less rest for more than 10 minutes (7 minutes is best) -- whether held at temp or not. The texture and juiciness change during the rest. Without a rest they express their juices as soon as they're cut and end up dry. With too much rest they reabsorb all their juices and become rubbery -- the same as cold roast beef.

Bottom line: You either need to have your sauce ready or be able to bring it together very quickly when they steaks come off the fire.

Rich


Edited by boar_d_laze (log)

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So boar d laze, is steak au povire different from peppercorn steak? I always make this by pressing the crushed peppercorns into the steak before searing, then making the sauce, which is what I'll be doing tomorrow night.

And thanks for the advice on the beurre manie. I'm going to make one of those up for my freezer, since I do make a lot of sauces and you never know!


Marlene

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Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Marlene,

Good question. I know what Childs, Bocuse, and Pelliprat (to name a few) mean when they throw those terms around, because I have their books. But whether they're actually the same ... ?

I think of "biftec au poivre" with the a pepper crust and a pan deglaze reduction -- usually burguignon, and I'm pretty sure we can at least agree on the crust; if not how to put it on and other variations. Do you press the steak into the peppercorns or the peppercorns into the steak? Cracked or coarse-ground? Tenderloin or strip? Tellicherry or Malabar or go all seventies with madagascar green? Red wine or cognac? Demi-glace? And so on.

From there it seems less certain. Would "peppercorn steak" be the same or not? Once you get into the "steak with peppercorn sauce," you're really getting elastic in terms of terms.

Your guess is as good as mine. I dunno, what do you think?

It's true, "One never know, do one?"

Rich

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Alright, here's how I make my verision of biftec au poivre and you can tell me what you think!

Using cracked pepper, not coarse ground, I press the steaks into the peppercorns and let that sit for about 30 minutes. I normally use NY Strips for this, about 1 1/2 inches thick.

I use a cast iron pan and sear the steaks in a mix of butter and olive oil, until just under rare then hold them in a warm oven. I'll then add some finely diced shallots to the pan and add a bit more butter if I need to, Then I use Cognac and ignite, then deglaze. I use both beef or veal stock (usually beef in my case) and red wine and reduce until about half. At this point it's more or less sauce like in consistency. Then I'll whisk in creme fraiche if I have it, or heavy cream if I don't. When I use heavy cream, I find I have to reduce a bit more, some mustard, some demi glace. I've never needed any flour thickners, particulary when using creme fraiche. I don't add peppercorns to the sauce itself so technically, it's not a peppercorn sauce.

As I mentioned, I'll be making this tomorrow night and will likely have a picture of at least the finished dish if not the whole method, somewhere.


Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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boar_d_laze, what great information! :biggrin: Your explanation of the different thickening agents will be very helpful. Thank you again, and I too will be making the thickener to be kept in the freezer. After reading your description, I remember making such a handy thickener once to be added to a crock pot recipe years ago. Now, I will have it at the ready in the freezer. Thank you for including measures. Which book would you suggest I buy to help in cooking matters such as the sauces? I don't plan on making many specialty items, but one never knows. I never knew I was going to try my hand at this peppercorn sauce.

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Very nice posts boar_d_laze. However, may I suggest using roux instead of beurre manié? I do not like the raw flour flavor that beurre manié brings. For those who wonder, roux is equal parts of butter and flour heated until desired coloration, very clear (low heat short time) for white roud to dark (higher heat, longer time) for dark roux. Roux also freezes very well.

I wasnt aware of the "true" process of making demi-glace. I made mine by reducing a dark stock (roasted bones and mirepoix, tomato paste, bouquet garni) to desired consitency. I have read a bit on the subject but fail to understand, what really distinguisheds the "true" demi-glace.

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Wow. OK. One at a time.

Marlene -- Sounds wonderful, and very similar to what I usually do. I'm really looking forward to seeing your presentation. As already said elsewhere, you're a great cook. The only thing I have to add, is the thought of using Mexican "crema" aka "table cream" or "crema agria" (sour cream). These latin products are creme fraiche under other names, at a far more reasonable price, and more widely available (if you live in an area with latino markets).

Toni -- Glad to help. It's been a long time since I bought books that emphasize the basics. I'm not sure what is or isn't in print. Most of my generation learned from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vols. I and II. But anything by Henri Pelliprat that you can get -- especially "Modern French Culinary Art," which may be the best instructional cookbook ever written. After 70 years, it's still in print and you can get it on Amazon. In re Pelliprat, who was one of the founders of Cordon Bleu -- styles have changed to much lighter foods and less formal presentations since Pelliprat's heyday but nobody teaches the basics better. Those, the "Gourmet" two book set and "Joy of Cooking" belong in every cook's library.

Possibly the best education you can get from books is to try and cook out of Elizabeth David's books. She often omits details like amounts and temperatures, and assumes a knowledge of technique owned by few of her audience of 1950s and '60s Enghlish housewives. The books are wonderfully written and are an education in the sense of "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Pielle -- Your implication about making sure flour is fully cooked, and the difficulty doing so when you add it towards the end of the cooking process is on the money. I tend to use roux when I begin with the idea of using a thickening agent, and beurre manie or slurries when thickening at the end,especially if reparing a sauce that wilfully refused to thicken properly on its own.

Roux is a nice segue to "true demi-glace" or what I think might be better termed a "classic demi-glace." Your enriched stock is similar to an espagnole except an espagnole is built around a blond roux. The classic way to make a demi-glace is making an espagnole, mixing it with an equal quantity of beef or veal stock, then reducing the mix, not too quickly, by about one half resulting in a velvet texture. Sounds like you do more or less the same thing, skipping the formal espagnole step. Julia Childs used to refer to something similar to your formula as a "semi-demi-glace."

"One never know, do one?"

Rich


Edited by boar_d_laze (log)

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FYI You can deglaze a hot pan with spirits without fear of fire by removing the pan from the stove before adding the spirit. Or, you can leave the pan on the stove if ALL the burners are off.  At any rate, after a minute of sizzling from the residual heat while you mix it with the fond enough alcohol will have evaporated so that the mix can be safely returned to the fire. Personally, I like flambe and never miss the opportunity.

I would never count on spirits and a hot pan not catching on fire, regardless of whether the burners are off. You might get lucky, if you pan isn't very hot. But with a hot enough pan, the alcohol and vapors can certainly heat up enough to flame. I know this from experience.

My advice is always to assume that spirits added to a hot pan will flame. That way, you won't be unpleasantly surprised.

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