Steak Au Poivre with Mushrooms
Pan-cooked mushrooms can be irresistibly delicious, especially when paired with steak. The trick is to stir them just enough to prevent burning, but infrequently enough to let them caramelize a bit. (Same with the leeks, whose sweetness contributes mightily.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds mushrooms (like button or cremini), sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 leeks, rinsed well and sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 pound beef sirloin, rib eye, strip, or other steak (about 1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon pepper
¾ cup red wine or water
1. Heat the oven to 200°F. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their water and the pan begins to dry out again, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften a bit, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the tarragon and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds or so, then transfer the mushrooms and leeks to an ovenproof dish; put in the oven.
2. Put the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and let it get hot. sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper into the hot fat, and immediately put the steak (or steaks) on top. Cook undisturbed until the meat develops a brown crust on the bottom and releases easily, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the other side browns a little too and the steak is still a little more rare than you like it—no more than a couple more minutes. (The best way to know for sure is to nick the steak with a sharp knife and peek inside.)
3. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and add the wine to the skillet. Cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits and let the liquid reduce to a little less than ½ cup. Cut the steak across the grain into ½-inch slices and put them on top of the mushrooms and leeks. Pour the pan juices over all and serve.
Pepper Steak with Asparagus and Shallots
Instead of the mushrooms, slice 1 ½ pounds asparagus on the bias into 1-inch pieces. Substitute 3 large shallots for the leeks; cut them crosswise into thin rings. In step 1, cook the shallots in the hot oil to give them a 2- or 3-minute head start, then add the asparagus and go from there.
Stir ½ pound fresh spinach into the mushroom and leek mixture just before they’re ready to be put in the oven. • Swap Marsala wine, port, or sherry for the red wine. • For genuine steak au poivre, coarsely grind about 1 tablespoon peppercorns and press them into the meat. then just add the salt to the hot oil in step 2.