Autumn is in full swing. Our precious grills have long since been packed away, hidden from the elements of Mother Nature. We bundle up, eat hearty stews or soups and fondly recall meats grilled to perfection over a bed of amber coals. The beauty of a good steak is that the steak loves a sear of heat – be it the grill or a heavy skillet.
While the dish sounds over the top difficult, it’s really very easy to make. Nothing is rushed. The steaks are seasoned with crushed peppercorns and allowed to rest on the counter about 45 minutes. This is plenty of time to make the potato base for the dish. The potatoes, once cooked, hold well in the oven, giving time to sear and cook the steaks. A few more minutes of holding time with the steaks and cakes together while the sauce is made and it all comes together beautifully in the end. Just keep in mind that you will be holding steaks in the oven, so you might want to remove them from the pan a little under-cooked.
These steaks were gourmet-fancy without a great deal of work. Big hit with my guys. I served them with pan-seared asparagus tips for an incredible meal with a wonderful presentation.
Peppered Pan-Seared Filet Steaks with Cognac Cream Sauce
Ingredients – Steaks
4 one-inch thick steaks (Filet Mignon; from the tenderloin)
1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Ingredients – Cognac Cream Sauce
1/4 cup Cognac cup
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
Use a mortar and pestle to roughly grind the pepper – this takes about 2 minutes of grinding. (Coarse ground pepper from a spice mill will also do the trick).
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and using your fingers coat them with the ground pepper. Allow the meat to come to room temperature – about 45 minutes.
While the steaks come to temperature, make the potato cakes. (See below).
Warm a heavy skillet (such as cast iron) on medium heat until it is heated through but not yet to the smoking point. Add the butter and olive oil. The butter should sizzle. When it has melted, swirl the pan and then add the steaks. Cook for 4 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for 4 more minutes. Reduce the temperature and continue to pan-fry the steaks to medium-rare.
Remove the steaks from the pan and arrange on top of the potato cakes. Return steaks to the warm oven while the sauce is made. The potato cakes will absorb flavor from the steaks while they are held together.
To make the sauce, return the pan to medium heat. Immediately add the Cognac and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to incorporate all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue boiling until the cognac is reduced by about half – about 2 minutes. Add the cream and bring just to the boiling point. Remove from heat. Season sauce to taste with a pinch of salt.
To serve, remove platter from the oven. Remove steaks from potatoes. Arrange potatoes on individual plates topped with steak. Spoon sauce over steaks and potatoes. Serve immediately.
Ingredients – Potato Cakes
2 Cups Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes (Refrigerated, not frozen)*
2 large Eggs
1 Tablespoons Flour
1 ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
¼ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Grated Red Onion
Using a large-hole kitchen grater, grate red onion into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir the shredded potatoes into the beaten eggs. Set aside.
In another small bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper together. Sprinkle seasoned flour over the potato mixture. Stir in onions, including all the juices. Set aside until ready to cook.
Lightly oil griddle and heat to medium-high heat (325 degrees on an electric griddle). Spoon potatoes onto griddle and spread out to create 1 ½ to 2-inch rounds about ½-inch thick. (I used a 2″ round cookie cutter, placing a couple of tablespoons of the potato mixture in each cutter to form the patties, then removed cutter and re-positioned on the griddle until all the patties were formed).
Cook potato pancakes 3 to 4 minutes, flip and continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes longer or until golden brown and cooked through. Turn again if needed to prevent burning.
Arrange potato cakes on a small platter and hold in a warm oven (225 degrees) until ready to use.