Vincent and Mary Price’s Steak Au Poivre | Probably the best steak recipe ever!

A Treasury of Great RecipesHaving tried four of the 10 steak recipes in Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes, the one I keep coming back to is Steak Au Poivre (Black Pepper Steak). OMG! I’m salivating just at the mention of it.

‘If you think, as I do, that black pepper and rare beef make beautiful music together, then you will like this steak recipe too. We learned it in Chicago from friends who had brought it back from France in this stockyard city must be especially alert to new ways of preparing beef. This one is a winner.’ VINCENT PRICE

Steak Au Poivre: A Treasury of Great RecipesSteak Au Poivre (Black Pepper Steak)

sirloin steak
dry white wine
brandy (optional)
cooking oil

1 Wipe with a damp cloth: a 1 1/4-inch sirloin steak (3 pounds). Dry carefully.

2 Coarsely crush: 2 tablespoons peppercorns. (Use a mortar and pestle or a potato masher.)

3 Pound crushed pepper into both sides of the steak, smacking it in with flat side of a cleaver or the potato masher. Steak should be quite thickly covered. Let stand for 2 hours.

4 In a heavy skillet heat: 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon cooking oil. (This mixture can get hotter without burning strain it if you want the loose bits of than butter alone.)

5 Over high heat sear steak quickly on peppercorns both sides. Cook 5 minutes on each side.

6 Remove steak to a hot platter.

7 Stir into pan: 2/3 cup dry white wine and 1 tablespoon brandy (optional). Boil wine rapidly for 2 minutes, scraping up brown meat drippings at bottom of pan.

8 Remove from heat and swirl in: 2 tablespoons butter.

Strain the sauce over the steak (or don’t strain it if you want the loose bits of pepper too) and garnish with watercress.

My go-to steak recipe at the moment. It’s simply, hugely flavoursome (the aroma of the searing black pepper is quite something) and truly honours the produce – with my choice cut being fillet. You also get quite alot of sauce out of this, which you can keep refrigerated for 2 days.

Steak Au Poivre (Black Pepper Steak)

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Hôtel de la Poste’s Steak Chevillot | Four steps to steak heaven

Steak Chevillot: A Treasury of Great RecipesIn my quest to try out all the steak recipes in Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes, here’s a look at Hôtel’s de la Poste’s Steak Chevillot.

‘At the heart of one of the richest wine-growing regions of Burgundy is the medieval city of Beaune. Here, every autumn after the grape harvest, a famous wine auction is held in the courtyard of the ancient hospital for the poor. The Hospices de Beaune has been housing the poor for more than 500 years on the proceeds of the great vineyards which it owns. It also owns a fine painting by Roger van der Weyden, among other treasures, and this handsome Gothic building remains one of the unfor- getable pleasures of our visit to Beaune. The other is the Hôtel de la Poste. I would trade you every chromium plated motel in the United States for one such French inn. This one stands on the Street of the Cask-Makers after all, wine Beaune’s chief industry It’s present owner and chef, Marc Chevillot, is the grandson of the founder the hotel. Like his grandfather and his father before him, young Chevillot is a wine dealer as well as a gifted chef. He started as a kitchen apprentice in his father’s kitchen, and later was employed by the incom parable Fernand Point at La Pyramide. When you sit down to a meal at the Hôtel de la Poste, what you get is a distillation of a long tradition of fine wines food, and the realization that great cooking doesn’t just come about overnight. Out of respect for our amateur standing, however, M. gave us some recipes which are excellent without being at all difficult to follow – one of which is Steak Chevillot ’ VINCENT PRICE


fillets of beef
red Burgundy
marrow bones (optional)

‘The French prefer their steaks small and sautéed in a rather than large and broiled as we usually prepare them here. For four people or fewer this steak, Chef Chevillot prepares and we find it a perfect chafing dish recipe’ VINCENT PRICE

In skillet heat: 1 tablespoon butter and in it cook over high heat 4 fillets of beef, each 1 ½ inches thick, for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and done to taste. Remove fillets to warm serving platter and keep warm. Drain fat from skillet and return skillet to moderate heat.

1) Add: ½ tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon minced shallots and cook for 30 seconds.

2) Add: ½ cup Burgundy and cook until wine is reduced to about half its quantity.

3) Stir in: 1 teaspoon flour and mixed to a smooth paste with 1 teaspoon butter and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

4) Swirl in: 1 tablespoon butter and when butter is melted, add: 2 tablespoons Burgundy.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce over each fillet, and serve immediately. If desired, top each fillet with a slice of poached beef marrow.

Four easy steps to steak heaven. And here’s the result…

Steak Chevillot

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The Whitehall Club’s Steak Diane | The 1970s classic that needs no reinvention

The Whitehall Club, ChicagoMy latest adventure trying out the steak recipes in Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes led me to a 1970s classic, Steak Diane, and this one comes from Chicago’s The Whitehall Club.

A Treasury of Great Recipes‘Chicago has been a long time living down the label pinned on it by Carl Sandburg-“Hog Butcher for the World.” The stockyards aren’t what they used to be, but meats and steaks are still superlative in this town, and a new dimension has been added gastronomically. There are now many wonderful restaurants here with fantastically varied cuisines, a few of them so popular that they have become private clubs in order to limit the crowds The best, I would say, is The Whitehall Club, one of the few American taurants ever mentioned in that Who’s Who of French gastron Guide Michelin. Elegantly paneled, and decorated with an antique wallpaper like the one used in Sacher’s in Vienna, the room manages to seem private and intimate even when it is jammed. The host-owners are the Keller brothers, Sidney and Will, men of many enterprises, but with none so close to their hearts as this excellent eating club. They and their staff not only love good food, they love sharing its secrets with other interested gastronomes Aside from some marvelous recipes, the Whitehall staff also gave me a few good cooking tips, which I happily pass on to you. Their chef’s big secret is to use shallots in everything requiring garlic or onion, except for salad. Don’t overdo any flavor use herbs and spices sparingly to let the flavor of the original food come through. And don’t overcook or again you will lose the flavor of the original Their recipe for good co Two cups care, one heaping teaspoonful of imagination and generous dashes of subtle Result? Some of the most delicious food we’ve ever eaten anywhere.’ VINCENT PRICE

Steak DianeSteak Diane

sirloin steaks
Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper

‘Usually in Chicago you are brought enormous, thick steaks that all but come to the table wearing the blue ribbon of the steer that they were part of. So for a change it was pleasant to be served a steak that had been pounded thin and was cooked quickly at the table in a chafing dish. The Whitehall Club’s maitre d’hôtel did the steaks and their sauce so deftly and rapidly, I couldn’t wait to get home and try it myself. It really does go 1-2-3, and tastes marvelous.’ VINCENT PRICE

1 Put: 4 sirloin steaks, each about 6 ounces, between pieces of waxed paper and pound to a 1/3-inch thickness.

2 Heat in small saucepan: 2 tablespoons butter.

3 Add: 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots and cook until shallots are lightly browned. Add: 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and heat to bubbling. Keep the sauce hot.

4 Heat in 12-inch skillet or chafing dish: 6 tablespoons butter. When it begins to brown, add steaks and cook for 3 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until done to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

Spread the shallot sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Again, this is a very simple dish and one you can master after a few tries, but it does require a good cut of beef, like a fillet. I tried it with rib eye and it came out chewy the first time. Also, you need to get the balance right with the Worcestershire and butter, as it can come out a tad vinegary. Oh, and the perfect song for this dish just has to be Fleetwood Mac’s Oh, Diane:

Steak Diane

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Steak Moutarde Flambé | A true classic from Copenhagen’s famed Belle Terrasse

Belle Terrasse TivoliA juicy steak is one of life’s greatest pleasures (unless you’re vegan – and there’s nothing wrong with being vegan). But it’s also a bugger to get right. My mother (bless her) always turned them into leather straps or stewed them to bland tastelessness, so I’m always looking for the perfect steak recipe: and one that honours the meat.

So my challenge is to explore all of the steak recipes in Vincent and Mary Price’s acclaimed tome, A Treasury of Great Recipes. There are 10, but I won’t be trying the three Tartar ones as they are far to rare for me. This recipe comes from the Belle Terrasse in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens (alas now closed).

Belle Terrasse, Tivoli, CopenhagenSteak Moutarde Flambé
‘We are inclined to think that nowhere else in the world is there beef the equal of ours. But in Denmark the beef raised on their rich farm and grazing lands is superlative, their dairy products without peer. In this recipe, rich Danish beef is prepared with a mustard sauce that utilizes the thick, heavy cream-both sweet and sour-for which the country is famous. By flaming the beef with cognac, all of the juices and flavorings are sealed into the meat, and all the wonderful brownings in the pan are loosened to become part of the sauce. At Belle Terrasse these steaks were served with French fried potatoes and a cool, crisp salad. An unbeatable combination.’ VINCENT PRICE

beef fillet
salt, pepper
Dijon mustard
mild mustard
sour cream
rose paprika

1) In skillet heat: 1 tablespoon butter, saute over high heat: 4 fillets of beef, 1/2 inches thick, for 4 minutes. Turn and sprinkle with: salt, coarsely sage ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon crumbled sage leaves. Cook to desired degree of doneness (4 to 5 minutes per side for rare).

2) Pour off excess fat from pan and cream sprinkle fillets with: 1/4 cup cognac. Ignite the cognac and when the flame burns out, transfer fillets to a warm serving platter and keep warm.

3) To skillet add: 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 4 teaspoons mild brown or
herb-flavored mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon rose paprika. Combine: 2 tablespoons commercial sour cream and 1/2 cup cream and stir into mustard in skillet. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the fillets and serve.

Steak Moutarde Flambé

Simply delicious: and I think it’s the herbs that really lifts the dish; plus I love mustard so the sauce is a winner. I’ve also tried using just the sour cream, and replaced the cognac with the less expensive French Brandy, and works a treat. Oh, I just love the kitchen theatre ingniting the spirit. But watch out you don’t singe anything. There’s also that sense of satisfaction that you have just knocked up a restaurant-quality dish at a fraction of the price – but don’t scrimp on the beef. Get it organic and use the best cut: fillet.

Steak Moutarde FlambéSteak Moutarde FlambéSteak Moutarde Flambé

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