If you don’t already know me, you should know that I am an impulse buyer to the extreme. Sure, of course I need that extremely random ingredient that I found on amazon that will get used once. Sure, I go to Costco for dog food and leave with a 48 pack of la croix, a kayak, 800 avocados, but I forgot the dog food. My husband has learned to never let me loose in a Target solo. Ever. Our kitchen cabinets are already stretched to the breaking point, filled with cooking pans, utensils, gadgets, etc. that I find I only break out once in a blue moon. I use the same mixing bowl, the same cast iron pan, the same knife (with special project exceptions) and yet I have at least 12 mixing bowls collecting dust in my cabinets. Some would call it kitchen hoarding, I call it being prepared.
But, I digress. On my most recent pilgrimage to Costco for fur babe sustenance, I happened to walk by the little counters that move around the store showcasing the best beef and seafood. Well, the freaking PRIME bone-in ribeyes were $12.99/lb. Too good to pass up. Another thing about me: I love the idea of steakhouse fare but I almost never go because WHY WOULD I? I can buy a 2.5 lb tomahawk monster at a butcher shop for almost nothing compared to what I would spend in a restaurant. I am constantly working on recipes to rival any steakhouse (also, get out of here with your Outbacks and Longhorns–I’m talking classic, fancy steakhouses). Enter: ribeye steak au poivre and duck fat potatoes with roasty garlic.
I feel like it’s long been a thing trying to figure out how to keep steaks tender. If cooked too long, they turn into shoe leather. How does one maintain a beautiful medium-rare, but still have tenderness like it was cooked for hours? If I was working in a restaurant, I would recommend the sous vide (french for “under vacuum”) technique of cooking proteins in which the meat is placed into a plastic pouch and cooked at low, fixed temperatures where the tough collagen in connective tissue can be hydrolyzed into gelatin, without heating the meat’s proteins high enough that they become tough and overcooked. I know, science is freaking crazy, man. While most restaurants, and some very well-stocked home cooks, practice this technique, the average individual is looking for a way to achieve the same result without fancy equipment and gadgets. I have been regularly employing the “reverse-sear” method for any of my thicker cut steaks and prime rib roasts. If searing is cooking meat in a hot pan or cast iron until a brown, caramelized crust forms and finishing it in the oven, reverse searing is the opposite.
Your meat goes onto a rack set over a sheet tray and into the oven at a low temperature (around 275 degrees F) until it is 15-20 degrees shy of your desired internal temperature and is then finished by pan searing so as not to lose out on the goodness that is a caramelized crusted steak. I found that for this 2.5 lb steak, it took about an hour in the oven to reach 115 degrees F (I was shooting for a finished temp of 130 degrees F for medium rare). This is where a probe thermometer is absolutely imperative. You can pick one up for about $10 any pretty much any store that sells kitchenware and it’s a tool that I use time and time again. I found that the steak was just as tender and juicy as it would have been using the sous vide technique. As much as this sounds like a lot of words for the simple act of cooking a steak, it’s not. Steak is something that is easy to get right and equally easy to get so, so wrong. It’s often the simplest cooking techniques that require diligence so that they turn out perfect. After the steak comes out of the pan, it’s important to rest the meat so that slicing into it won’t cause all the juices to run out. This is perfect, because it’ll give you time to prepare your pan sauce.
Au poivre sauce is a pan sauce made from the drippings and crust of searing your steak, plus peppercorns, butter, shallots, cognac, cream and dijon. Truly an incredibly easy sauce to make that will have you feeling like you are dining at Ruth’s Chris but in the comfort of your own home, hopefully wearing sweat pants. As for the duck fat potatoes? Basically just throw some baby potatoes or fingerlings, garlic cloves, salt + pepper in a small baking dish with some duck fat, let ’em cook low and slow in the oven, and you’re in business. I like to take it a step further and then fish the potatoes out of the duck fat and roast them at a high temp so they’re nice and crispy. You will impress yourself with how easy, impressive and elegant this meal is. And you’ll have paid a fraction of the cost to make it compared with what you would spend at a steakhouse. Grab a decent bottle of red and you’re living the good life, my friends. -xx
RIBEYE STEAK AU POIVRE:
1 bone-in ribeye steak 2 inches thick (mine was about 2.5lbs)
freshly cracked peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup cognac
1 tablespoon freshly cracked peppercorns
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt to taste
chopped chives or green onion, for garnish
duck fat potatoes (recipe below)
good finishing salt, such as maldon or cypress flake
large cast iron skillet (12-14 inches)
1/4 or 1/2 sheet tray with wire rack
digital meat thermometer
Preheat an oven to 275 degrees F. Generously season the outside of your steak with salt and cracked peppercorns (extra generous with the peppercorns). Set the steak on a wire rack fitted over a sheet tray. Throw steak in the oven and check the temperature every 20 minutes or so until it is 15-20 degrees shy of your desired temperature (I was shooting for 115 degrees with mine for a finished temperature of 130 degrees–medium rare). You’re going to want to find the coolest part of the meat to get an accurate temperature reading, somewhere in the very middle of the steak. I found that cooking mine took about an hour (again this is really only a technique for very thick cut steaks or like prime rib roasts).
About 25 degrees before your steak hits the temperature you’re looking for, start preheating your cast iron–you want that sucker screaming hot. Once your steak has reached the desired temperature, remove from the oven. Pour a small amount of neutral oil in your cast iron, don’t be afraid if it smokes a little. Place your steak in the skillet over high heat and cook about 2-3 minutes per side. You’re looking for a deep brown crust to have developed. Reduce the heat to medium and add your butter. Using a large spoon, baste the butter over the steak for about 2 minutes. Remove steak from the pan and return to the wire rack over the sheet tray. Let your steak rest for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, it’s time to build the pan sauce.
Add minced shallots to the pan using the leftover butter and stir them until they’re soft. Add the cognac and reduce by half (turn the flame off when adding the cognac, just to be safe, and turn the flame back on after it’s in the pan). It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to reduce the cognac. Add 1 tablespoon freshly cracked peppercorns to the pan with the cream and reduce until thick. Turn off the heat, season to taste with salt, and add the dijon and vinegar. Slice the steak, transfer to a serving plate, and sprinkle with finishing salt. Spoon the pan sauce over the steak. Finish with chopped chives or green onion and serve with duck fat potatoes and extra sauce.
DUCK FAT POTATOES:
1 lb fingerling potatoes in assorted colors (or just normal yellow)
8 peeled garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1 cup duck fat
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Place potatoes and garlic in a small baking dish, roughly 9×6. Season with salt and pepper and cover with duck fat. Roast in the oven until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and garlic from the oil (this part can be done ahead and potatoes can be refrigerated until ready to roast). Let oil cool, strain, and reserve for future use (I keep mine in my freezer).
Turn oven up to 450 degrees f. Place cooked potatoes and garlic on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast in oven until crispy, about 10 minutes. Serve with steak and top with chopped chives or green onions.