Female. Lives in United States/Illinois/Chicago, speaks English. My interests are Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking/Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Illinois, Chicago, English, Female, Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking, Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Steak Au Poivre and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

My in-laws left yesterday after a very nice visit. As I mentioned in my last post, I cooked steak au poivre with garlic mashed potatoes the first night of their stay. Dinner came out really well but unfortunately I don't have any photos of it to share. Our current place doesn't have a dining room, just a very large eat-in kitchen that people like to congregate in while I cook. I love my kitchen and I love that there's space for guests to mill around and hang out while I get meals together. One of the downsides to that though is that I always hesitate to take any photos of the food I cook for guests if they are standing right there. It just seems wrong to document the whole cooking and plating process, as if this is some science experiment, when I have guests eagerly awaiting their dinner. So you'll just have to trust me that the meal was appealing to both the eye and the palate.

While we're on the subject of my kitchen and how inviting it is to people, I'll mention one other downside to my current floorplan: my guests also see all the spastic things I do while cooking. This dinner came out extremely well, but I did have one judgment error when planning for the meal. My recipe for the mashed potatoes called for Yukon golds. At the store, the only gold potatoes were these tiny little potatoes probably meant for roasting (not mashing) because they were so cute and would make a charming presentation with a pot roast or something like that. In a fit of crazy judgment, I decided that these petite gold potatoes would probably be more tender and therefore better than larger potatoes and that they would make an even better mashed potato than regular sized ones. Ok, not only is that reasoning flawed but I also completely forgot how long it would take me to peel 3 pounds of really small potatoes that were just going to get mashed up anyway. Let's just say it was tedious but I got it done reasonably quickly. All while my in-laws watched (and kindly offered to help). So that was my bizarro display for this meal---poor judgment with my potato selection leading to excessive peeling time. If only I had known more information like this before shopping.

Here are the recipes for the steak au poivre and garlic mashed potatoes. They come courtesy of The Chopping Block, a cooking school and retail store here in Chicago. As mentioned before, I love their classes and their recipes are delicious without being too hard for any cook.

Steak Au Poivre
Recipe courtesy of The Chopping Block
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes
Serves 4

4 steaks (filet mignon, sirloin, or New York strip steaks are good choices)
¼ cup black peppercorns, whole
sea salt, to taste
4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, cut into slices
¼ cup cognac (red wine works too)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Let the steaks sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Crack the peppercorns using the bottom of a heavy pan or place in a plastic bag and use a meat mallet to crack them. Generously press the cracked peppercorns into the steak.

Heat a large skillet over a medium high flame until hot and add 2-3 tablespoons butter until melted. Add steaks and cook on first side until dark brown sear is created, about 3-5 minutes. Flip steak over, add remaining butter and cook to desired degree of doneness.

Remove steaks from pan and let rest, covered, while making pan sauce.

To make the pan sauce, reduce flame to medium, add shallot and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Deglaze pan by adding cognac and scraping off browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add mustard, chicken stock and cream. Turn heat to high and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve pan sauce over steaks.

I always use red wine in place of cognac in this dish. Why? I always have a red wine in the house but I rarely have cognac. The red wine works very well. We usually use filet mignon for the meat, since it's one of my favorite cuts. As usual, Win was my grill guy, and I must compliment him for his masterful meat preparation. He had 4 steaks to cook for 4 people who liked them at varying levels of doneness and he got them all just right.

I cannot emphasize enough how good this pan sauce is. It's absolutely delicious and you will love it. We love it on the steak and usually drizzle some over the mashed potatoes too; it's that good.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Recipe Courtesy of The Chopping Block
Prep Time: 10 Minutes (unless you are me and you bought really tiny potatoes that take forever to peel)
Cook Time: 30-40 Minutes
Makes 4-6 generous servings

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled or scrubbed, cut in half
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk (or heavy cream...c'mon, you have it for the steak anyway...go crazy and use it) sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

1. Place potatoes and garlic cloves in large pot with 1 tablespoon sea salt.
2. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.
4. When potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pot. Add butter and mash partially with a potato masher. Add milk ¼ cup at a time and continue mashing until desired consistency is reached.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

These potatoes are easy to make and they have just the right amount of garlic flavor. Rich, creamy and a wonderful complement to the steak au poivre.

We also served a mesclun salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette with the meal. For our wine, we poured the 2000 Summerfield Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that we got in our Wine Grab Bag. This was a full, strong red that really benefited from decanting. It tasted very good on its own before dinner and excellent with the meal. So the first wine we sampled from the grab bag was a winner.

Thanks to my mother-in-law's help, we had the kitchen cleaned up in no time...and that always helps make a happy ending to any meal.

Next time: Discovering Mediterranean Cuisine in Andersonville

*The photo above comes from the Specialty Produce web site. You can find them here.