Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Man's Birthday Dinner- Steak Au Poivre, Cauliflower Puree and Feta Stuffed Peppers

A few weeks ago, we were invited to join some of our good friends' on their family's cattle roundup in Wyoming. I had so much fun and did my best to fulfill the role of the wide-eyed New Yorker, who marveled at every part of this very awesome and very foreign lifestyle. I snapped a ton of pictures, helped the little boys climb on tractors and ate!
Emmett and Ellis rolling around

Boys "posing" in front of the cows
One of the best parts of the day was when my friend Sarah handed me two grocery bags and walked me back to the meat freezer, teeming with frozen, beautiful cuts of all-natural beef. Because I hadn't had any fun and had toiled so much while playing with the little boys and hanging out in the kitchen with Sarah and her sister, I definitely deserved two giant bags full of steaks.

This amazing beef came in handy as Sam's birthday approached the following weekend. We were putting all of our birthday budget into a big ole' Spitzer backyard BBQ, so I didn't have a lot to spend on birthday dinner for my boy. I decided to use one of the delicious sirloin steaks that Sarah had given me. I made steak au poivre with a vermouth pan sauce, cauliflower-parmesan puree and charred, feta stuffed mini peppers. It was dang good!

Steak Au Poivre with Vermouth Pan Sauce
*Serves 2
1 large [16-20 oz-ish] sirloin steak [feel free to use whatever cut you like] or 2 smaller cuts
2 T black peppercorns
2 t kosher salt
1 T olive oil
1 T butter

Pan Sauce
All of the amazing bits of steak and pepper stuck to the bottom of the frying pan
3/4 cup beef or chicken broth
1/4 cup sweet vermouth [dry vermouth or red wine would be delicious as well]
Whatever juices may pool after the steak rests for 5 minutes

About 15 minutes before cooking, remove your steak from the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature. While the steak is losing its chill, smash the peppercorns by placing them inside a gallon size ziploc bag, spreading them out and smashing them with the underside of a sauce pan. Smash your peppercorns until all of them seemed to have cracked open. Remove them from the bag and mix the salt into the cracked peppercorns. 
 Place your steak on a cutting board or other flat surface and press half of the peppercorn and salt mixture into one side of the steak, and half into the other. 

Melt the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the butter has melted, add the steak to the pan. Cook for approximately five minutes a side for medium.

Once the steak is done, place on a plate, cover with a loose aluminum foil tent and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

While the steak is resting, make a quick pan sauce. Your pan should look something like this before you start:
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the vermouth to this seemingly burnt looking pan and stir with a wooden spoon, being careful to scrape up all of the delicious bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add the broth to the vermouth and scraped bits and let simmer until halved in volume, about 5 minutes. Right before serving, pour any steak juice that accumulated while the steak was resting and 1 T of heavy cream or half and half into the pan sauce. 

Our sauce was still pretty liquidy, so we served it in dipping cups on our plates. It was delicious!

Cauliflower and Parmesan Puree
1 large frying pan or stockpot with a lid
1 head of cauliflower 
1 t kosher salt
2 t butter
1 T sour cream
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 T half and half or whole milk
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper and garlic powder

Remove the leaves and the core of the cauliflower and slice the head into large florets. Pour about an inch of water into the bottom of your pan and add the teaspoon of salt and the cauliflower florets to the water.  Cover and steam for approximately 10 minutes or until the florets are fork tender.
To get the silkiness of mashed potatoes, drain the cauliflower and add it and all remaining ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth and silky, approximately one minute. 
Charred, Feta- Stuffed Mini Peppers
1 lb. of mini bell peppers, approximately 12 
3 oz. softened cream cheese
6 oz. crumbled feta
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
1 T lemon juice
*We had friends make this dish with Alouette, herbed cheese. It was awesome. Feel free to experiment with any of your favorite soft cheeses or cheese spreads.

Remove the stem of each pepper by slicing the top off of each pepper. Scoop out any seeds that remain in the pepper with your finger. 

Mix the cream cheese, feta, salt, pepper and lemon juice together in a medium bowl until the mixture is homogenous. 

Using a small spoon [I used one of my son's baby spoons], stuff about a teaspoon of the cheese mixture into each pepper.
Preheat a large skillet until it is searing hot. Place the stuffed peppers in the pan and cook until both sides of the pepper have charred spots on them. You can also broil or grill your peppers to achieve the charred spots.
 These were so yummy, sweet and tangy. They were the perfect compliment to the creaminess of the cauliflower and the heartiness of the steak.

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