Today’s lunch was all about indulging. For me January is a month of promise and possibility but often it is also wet and cold, so what better way to sizzle it up than with a hot peppery steak? When you add an exquisite cognac cream sauce and pommes allumettes french fries, you’ve reached pure happiness. That’s what matters, really. After all, there’s nothing wrong with making yourself happy. And we all need the extra energy.
These days I find myself longing for all my favourite dishes. Is it the cold weather inspiring my appetite? My food desires are meaty, tasty, hot and succulent. Just like the confit de canard. In my Paris days, we’d frequently go to Bistrot Paul Bert (8 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris), especially on Friday nights. So convivial and fun. Their black pepper steak is excellent (and so is their Paris-Brest!). These kind of meals simply make my week-end.
This recipe is so easy and beautiful to make. I love coating the beef with the crushed peppercorns, it looks like a little work of art. The taste of the sauce is so powerful, so rich in flavours, especially with the slight sweetness of the cognac blended in the cream. My husband prefers the steak without the cream, I, on the other hand, want three extra servings of sauce. The fries are delicate and refined, just how I like them. This is my version of a happy meal.
Black pepper steak with cognac cream sauce and pommes allumettes.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 beef filets mignons (tenderloin beef 150 g-230 g per person/ approx 1/3 to 1/2 pound – depending on your appetite)
1-2 tbsp unsalted butter
25-35 ml/ 2-3 tbsp cognac
45-55 ml/ 3-4 tbsp crème fraîche
60 ml/ 1/4 cup beef stock
Coarse salt & coarse black pepper (you can use a mortar & pestle and coarsely crush black peppercorns – enough to cover steak entirely)
2-3 tbsp peanut oil (for frying)
For the pommes allumettes:
3-4 large potatoes (slice into chunky match stick size)
Peanut oil (for frying)
For the steak:
Season the steak with salt and enough pepper to entirely cover the meat all over. Heat the peanut oil in a frying pan, and fry the steaks 3-4 minutes on each side on a medium heat (or less depending on how you like your steak’s cuisson/cooking). Set aside, cover and keep warm. In the same pan, scrape off unwanted residue and excess oil (leave as much pepper as possible). Add the beef stock and cook on a medium heat – bring to a soft boil, add cognac and reduce for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly. Add a bit more black pepper if you like it hot. Add the butter. Remove from heat and add 3-4 tbsp crème fraîche (or sour cream). Serve steak with cream sauce and fries.
For the pomme allumettes (matchstick fries):
Peel and slice potatoes into matchstick size (1/4 inch thick). Rinse the sliced potatoes in a large bowl of cold water and pat dry. Heat the peanut oil to 180°C/ 350°F. Fry the potatoes in batches (this is very important otherwise the oil will bubble over) for 3-4 minutes, until golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove fries from the oil and leave to drain on paper towels. To keep them warm, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 180°C/350°F preheated oven (don’t leave them in too long, it’s just to keep them warm for a few minutes before serving). Sprinkle with coarse salt before serving.