Steak sauce skills

NO DOUBT YOU WILL HAVE NOTED a distinct lack of quantities for some of the sauce ingredients. This is not an error. The reasons will emerge as the recipe unfolds.
Issue date : 19 June 2009

- Advertisement -

I have found that grilling meat in a big black cast-iron pot on a low-pressure gas flame is a great way to go. Firstly, gas gives you huge control over the temperature. Secondly, the steep sides of the pot prevent spatter and help minimise the cleaning up operation afterwards. And finally, the residual heat that builds up in such a pot keeps food warm if there’s a hold-up elsewhere in production.

Now for some sauce theory. The lack of quantities in this recipe is because sauce-making is measured by taste and appearance. Since both of these are qualitative rather than quantitative indicators, good saucemakers rely on their eyes, nose and tastebuds to get the thing right. And isn’t it enjoyable to chuck ingredients together for a change?

Now take the steak out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature, but keep it covered. Take a suitable smallish frying pan, bring to low heat and melt three tablespoons of butter. Swiftly sauté the finely chopped onion and garlic until both are soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of bottled green peppercorns, taking care to limit the amount of brine in each spoonful. Add to the frying pan and fry for 30 seconds or so. Some will inevitably be softer than others – mash them with a fork, then stir well.

- Advertisement -

Pour in the brandy, add some cream to the mix, a tablespoon or so at a time, stirring with each addition. This limits the probability of the cream curdling. Curdling won’t affect the flavour, only the look. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of freshly ground black pepper into the sauce. Taking care not to burn your mouth, taste. If it’s too thick, add more cream. If too thin, reduce the liquid by applying high heat. When just right, remove from the hob and cover the pan.

Now for the steak. Salt only the rim of fat. Bring the cast-iron pot up to smoking-high heat, then hold the steaks so that the fat is in contact with the base of the pot. Keep it there for 60 to 120 seconds until the fat is crisp. Grill the steak flat for as long as it takes to reach the degree of “done-ness” that suits your diners.
Pour a couple of spoons of the sauce over the meat and chow down with a couple of chilled Pilsensers. Nothing else is required, although some people might like a baked potato dressed with the remainder of the sauce. – David Basckin     |fw

To make a steak with green peppercorn sauce for two, you will need:
800g thick-cut sirloin
A bottle of green peppercorns in brine
Freshly ground black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
25ml to 50ml brandy