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Sirloin Steaks with Green Peppercorns

Recipe by: Linda Tomasini

Prep time:

Serves: 1

30 ml green peppercorns -- (2 tbsp)
6 sirloin steaks -- about 175 g (6 oz) each Salt
15 ml vegetable oil -- (1 tbsp)
30 g butter -- (1 oz)
45 ml cognac -- (3 tbsp)
300 ml Brown Veal Stock -- (10 fl oz)
225 ml cream -- (8 fl oz)
Watercress, -- to garnish

The chef has some guidelines to determine when a steak is cooked: When demonstrating the technique for cooking a steak, the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu hesitate to give students an exact cooking time because there are so many variables to consider. Obviously the thickness of the steak and the degree to which it is to be cooked (very rare, rare, medium, or well done) will have a considerable effect on the timing. The temperature of the meat before cooking (if you like your steak rare or medium rare it must be at room temperature before cooking), the presence of a bone, the method of cooking (sauteing, grilling or barbecuing), and the heat of the stove, grill, or coals will also affect the cooking time. The best way to test whether the meat is cooked is by touch and sight as well as by the clock: as a steak cooks, the meat becomes firmer and the interior colour lightens from a dark purple-red to pink. With experience you will be able to determine when all meats, poultry, and even fish are done, merely by touch. Here are guidelines for cooking steaks to the desired degree: approximate times are given for 2-2.5 cm (3/4-1 inch) thick steaks. VERY RARE (called bleu in French) Sear both sides just until browned (about 1 minute each side) in very hot oil and butter. The steak will feel very soft when touched; the interior colour will not have changed from the purple-red colour of raw meat. RARE (Saignant) Sear for 2 minutes each side and 1 minute on the edge in very hot oil and butter. The steak will still feel soft when touched; the interior colour will be red. MEDIUM (a point) Sear for 3 minutes each side and 1 minute on the edge in very hot oil and butter. The steak will offer resistance when touched; the interior colour will be pink, and pink juices will bead on the surface of the seared side of the steak when turned. WELL DONE (bien cuit) Sear both sides iust until browned (about 1 minute each side) and then cook for about 15 minutes in a 170 C (325 F) mark 3 oven. The steak will be very firm when touched; the interior colour will no longer be at all pink.

Coarsely crush the peppercorns with the bottom of a small heavy saucepan. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and then sprinkle with the peppercorns, pressing the peppercorns onto the surface of the steaks. Heat 7.5 ml (1.5 tsp) of the oil and 15 g (1/2 oz) of the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Add 3 steaks, brown on both sides and then continue to cook until done as desired. Transfer to a serving platter; cover to keep warm. Discard the fat from the pan and repeat with the remaining oil and butter to cook the remaining steaks. Return all the steaks to the pan, add the cognac and carefully light it. When the flames die, transfer the steaks to a platter. Add the stock and cream to the pan and deglaze over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any cooked particles. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, then season to taste with salt and pepper and strain. To serve, arrange the steaks in the centre of the platter and spoon the sauce over. Garnish the platter with watercress. Serve the remaining sauce in a sauceboat. Accompany with the Pommes de Terre Sautees Cru

NOTES : Pepper steak has long been part of the classic French repertoire. This is a modern variation on that theme. It substitutes green peppercorns ('fresh' peppercorns sold bottled or canned) for the traditional black (dried) peppercorns used to season the steak in the past. Green peppercorns are not as hot as black peppercorns and have a fruitier taste

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