What will we eat on the last evening on which we will be have time to cook a meal from scratch? (Thursday’s pre-flight dinner will comprise various leftovers, delish but dullish.)
Well, there were two pieces of rump steak in the freezer, some cream in the door of the fridge, some green beans and Dutch Carrots in the crisper and a large Dutch Cream potato in the pantry. So, it’s going to be pepper steak, with mash, boiled sliced beans and honeyed carrots for dinner tonight.
I moved to Perth in December 1974. A few months later I was introduced to a small French restaurant just off the highway between Perth and Fremantle. The menu didn’t change much during the year and ‘filet au poivre’ was a constant. I rarely ordered anything else, it was that good and I was that un-adventurous!
Many years later, friends gave me a copy of a modest but authentic French cookbook, where I soon found the pepper steak recipe. This is our version, only slightly modified from the original.
4 x 2cm-thick 150-180g steaks (good quality rump is ideal)
peppercorns (we use a medley of black, white, green and red)
20ml olive oil
3 tbsp brandy
3 tbsp cooking cream
- Allow ½-1 tsp of coarsely ground pepper for each steak, according to your taste. Place steaks on a large plate and grind pepper over both sides of each steak. Sprinkle each steak with a little olive oil and leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to be absorbed.
- Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan over medium to high heat; when sizzling, add the steaks and seal them quickly on both sides. Reduce the heat and cook the steaks to just under your liking, allowing for the fact that the steaks will cook a little more while resting.
- Remove the steaks from the pan and sprinkle them with a little salt.
- Add brandy and cream to the pan and cook, stirring gently, until warm and thick. Add any juices from the resting meat and adjust seasoning for salt.
- When the sauce is ready, remove pan from heat, add the steaks to coat them in the sauce and serve.
- You can vary this recipe by cooking some thin slices of mushroom or spring onion in the pan before adding the brandy and cream.
PS. When we ate this last night, the sauce seemed to lack some punch. I will add one or two teaspoons of tinned green peppercorns next time.