Yesterday was Walt's birthday. We made his traditional birthday dinner: steak au poivre et pommes frites, with a big green salad dressed with vinaigrette. The first time Walt had steak au poivre, he's told me, was in a restaurant on his birthday in 1981 when he happened to be in Antibes, or maybe Nice, in the south of France sur la Côte d'Azur. Memories blur. The second time he had that dinner for his birthday was with me, in Arlington, Virginia, on his birthday in 1982. We cooked it at his apartment. And we've cooked it for his birthday every year since then. That would be 38 times.
This kind of steak au poivre is made with crushed black pepper (poivre noir concassé) and a cream sauce with Cognac or Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy) and veal or beef broth in it, along with small amounts of Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. The first step is to coat the steak in crushed pepper, let it "marinate" for an hour or two, and then sear it in a hot frying pan.
Transfer the seared steak to a warming oven and make the sauce in the same pan, de-glazing it with Cognac or Calva, adding a good amount of cream plus the other ingredients. Put the steak back in the pan with the sauce and let it all warm through, but don't let it boil or cook too long. You want the steak rare or maybe medium rare. This year we cooked a thick slice of faux-filet from Limousin cattle (raised a couple of hours south of Saint-Aignan) that we got in a local butcher's shop. Faux-filet is sirloin, I believe. And it's good — especially with the sauce. Here's a page in French about steak names in France and in the U.S.