Saturday, October 9, 2010

Favorite Cook-books and Pepper Crusted Steak

When Josh and I got married, one of my great-aunts (collectively we refer to my great-aunts as "The Aunts") gave us two cook books from the Best Recipe Classic collection, which are published by America's Test Kitchen. They are, hands down, my favorite cook books. What I love about America's Test Kitchen is that not only do they give you the best way to cook practically everything, but they also tell you why it is the best way. Maybe I was one of those kids who always wanted to know why, but I'll admit I really like knowing that it's better to boil your potatoes with the skin on when your making mashed potatoes (they retain more flavor), and seemingly insignificant things like that. I also like knowing these things without being the one trying 50 different ways to make mashed potatoes (although Josh would appreciate eating them).
All that to say, this recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, and is probably my most successful attempt at steak to date. My only caution is that once in the oven, the steak cooks up fast, so keep an eye on it to avoid over cooking!

pepper crusted steak

5 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 -4 steaks (the original recipe is for filet mignon) 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, dried with paper towels

1. Heat the peppercorns and 5 tablespoons of oil in a small sauce pan over low heat until bubbles begin to appear. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. When the pepper mixture is at room temperature, stir in salt. Rub the steaks with this mixture, coating all sides of the steak with the peppercorns. Cover with plastic wrap and press the peppercorns into the steak. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. Heat a rimmed baking sheet in the center of the oven at 450 degrees.
4. After the steaks have sat for an hour, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet until it begins to smoke. Place the steaks in the oil and allow a dark crust to form by not moving the steak for 3-4 minutes. Turn the steaks over and repeat on the other side.

5. Transfer the steaks to the hot baking sheet and roast in the oven until the steaks reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees (medium rare) or 130 degrees (medium). This will take approximately 5 to 9 minutes.

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