Steak au Poivre

Curses, Tony Bourdain!!!

I ran across a video on Facebook one night and realized that I must cook this. Anthony Bourdain did a video with Balvenie where he made steak au poivre over an open flame and was both immediately hungry and inspired. I didn’t have 7 hours in front of me to make the demi-glace in his recipe, so I made some modifications to the recipe, taking some liberties with his project. Steak au poivre is a French dish that consists of a steak, traditionally a filet mignon, coated with loosely cracked black peppercorns and then seared. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavor of the high-quality beef. It won’t be quite as tender of a loin cut, but NY Strip would also be a suitable cut for you to use at home.

As I typically already reverse sear steaks on a routine basis, this cook is a low degree of difficulty. It does, however, give me the opportunity to sear these steaks in the normal order and is dressed up a notch by the pan sauce. Tonight included potatoes au gratin and farmers’ market lima beans to accompany the steak. If you wanted to stick with the French theme, lentils or haricot vert might also make excellent options for sides.

Steak au Poivre

Steak au Poivre


  • USDA Choice or better Filet Mignon (substitute NY Strip if you prefer)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cracked Black Peppercorns
  • Unsalted Butter
  • For the pan sauce
  • 1/3 cup cognac, brandy or whisky (Scotch or bourbon would both suffice if your home bar is like mine and lacking in the brandy department)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • More unsalted butter


    Prep brine the steaks
  1. 30 minutes beforehand, remove the steaks from the fridge and dry brine with kosher salt.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind black peppercorns.
  3. Spread the black peppercorns on a plate and press the steak into the peppercorns, leaving a peppercorn crust on each side of each filet.
  4. Cook the steaks
  5. Preheat a cast iron skillet the oven to 350F. Preheat the grill to 600F-700F.
  6. Melt butter in a second cast iron over the grill
  7. Sear the steaks for two minutes on each side.
  8. Remove the steaks from heat and transfer into the cast iron pan in the oven and cook to desired doneness.
  9. With steaks, you should be cooking to temperature and not for time. But, as a general rule, a 1" filet should take about 8-10 minutes to reach Medium Rare (135F). The same steak should take 12-15 minutes to reach Medium (145F).
  10. Remove the steaks from heat and transfer to a plate to rest.
  11. While the steaks are finishing in the oven, prepare the pan sauce
  12. Over medium heat, in a pan, add 1/4 cup of cognac or liquor and ignite. Shake the pan until the fumes are extinguished.
  13. Add the heavy cream, whisk for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  14. Salt to taste.
  15. Add 1 tbsp of unsalted butter and whisk in.
  16. Serve
  17. Plate the sides.
  18. Slice steak across the grain.
  19. Top sliced steak with pan sauce.

Bon appetit!

USDA Prime Ribeye

AKA #MagicCityBurn vs. Shula’s Steak House

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a $100 gift card to Shula’s Steakhouse, somewhere that I would never normally eat. Dinner there was quite an experience. I had an amazing glass of XYZin 50 Year Old Vine Zinfandel and their 22 oz bone-in, dry aged, USDA Prime Cowboy Ribeye. Having eaten at Fleming’s and Ruth’s Chris in the past, I’ve grown pretty confident that I do well enough with USDA Choice steaks that I don’t need to spend the extra on USDA Prime. But I was flat out outgunned by Shula’s.

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Setup the BGE for direct cooking

I have a good friend who recently received a Big Green Egg as a Christmas gift. He’s without prep space at the moment as he and his wife have been remodeling their kitchen and I am sad for his Egg as it sits lonely on his patio, all white and pristine. I thought I’d toss him a bone on the burn in procedure for the Egg and realized that, while I had a blog post for indirect heat, I hadn’t done one for direct heat. Continue reading

Setup the BGE for indirect cooking

So now that the Egg is cleaned out, I’m ready to start getting ready for TurkeyPalooza 2012.

Being that my back patio is covered and there is 0% chance of rain. I can do this the night before too. If you recall, we started with a clean and empty Big Green Egg.

1. Insert the electric starter (if that’s what you’re using). Pour natural lump charcoal over the top. There are a bazillion different brands out there. I use the “official” stuff lately. Don’t be afraid to reach in there and move individual chunks of charcoal around. For indirect cooking, you want to build a stable, controlled fire.

2. (optional) Add a couple small chunks of wood for smoke. For the turkey, I’m going with Apple. For God’s sake, do not use mesquite for poultry or pork.

3. Add more natural lump charcoal. The idea is to get a full load of coal. At least to cover the holes in the fire bowl. And, for long cooks, you can go as high as near the top of the fire ring if you have to.

For the actual cook:

4. Plug in the electric starter. Open the bottom and top vents all the way for maximum air flow. For a high temp cook, I’ll leave this in for 6 or 7 minutes. for a low temperature cook, I may only leave it in for 3 or 4 minutes.

5. Close the lid. Let the grill pre-heat. Do not leave the grill unattended. You’ll want to start adjusting the vents when you get within 25 – 50 degrees of your intended temperature. For the Turkey, I’m looking for a “dome temp” of 350F, which means the cooking surface should be a slightly cooler 325F. Pro Tip: Be willing to spend time getting your fire right. Your brisket, chicken and pork (and hopefully my turkey) are worth getting this right. If I’m doing a cut of meat that people consider to have a high degree of difficulty (read: brisket), it is not uncommon for me to spend 45 minutes to an hour before I consider my fire to be “right.” One of my friends convinced me this was OK the day before my first brisket and I am glad that he did.

6. Once you’ve preheated and your fire is stable, add the ceramic platesetter. For turkey (for basically anything except pizza), I’m using it inverted with the feet facing up. This will leave room for me to insert a roasting pan to catch drippings. Close the lid and allow the temperature to normalize again. You may need to adjust your vents to permit more air flow.

7. Add the meat. In the case of the turkey, add the turkey, breast side up in a V Rack. I also have a probe thermometer in the turkey breast so that I get an audible alarm when the breast meat reaches 165F.

8. Stick with the grill for another 20 to 30 minutes to be sure the temperature holds steady. And then walk away. Sometimes I check the dome temperature every couple of hours. Sometimes I watch football. Sometimes I just sleep. Whatever you do, keep the lid closed.

Bacon wrapped filet mignon – Reverse Sear

So I’ve been quiet for a while. Not for lack of cooking. Not for lack of taking photos of food. Just, not posting in a timely manner. Thanks to for reminding me of my social responsibility. I also have numerous pics of his fajita recipes, which are excellent.

A couple weeks ago, we picked up some pretty thick (1.5+” thick) bacon wrapped filets at the grocery store. Given that I hadn’t cooked a thick steak in a while, I decided to go with a “less is more” recipe. This technique isn’t fast, but it does produce an excellent brown crust on the meat that you aren’t generally going to get outside of some pretty pricy steakhouses.


  • Filet mignon, the best cut you can comfortably spend, at least USDA Choice
  • Bacon, whatever floats your boat (ours came pre-assembled)
  • Salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Two cast iron grill plates
  • Butter
Dry brine the steaks:
1. Remove the steaks from the fridge.
2. Blot dry with a paper towel.
3. Sprinkle salt liberally over the steaks.
4. Cover with another paper towel and let come to room temperature for an hour or so.
While you wait on the steaks to reach room temperature, go ahead and prepare the Big Green Egg:
1. Setup the Egg for direct heat.
2. Start fire and preheat grill to a dome temperature of about 300F.
Once the grill is ready, add the steaks:
1. Add the steaks in the reverse order you want to pull them off. For medium rare, you’re looking to leave the meat on at this temperature for about half an hour. My wife likes her steaks closer to medium well, so hers was on for about an hour.
2. Remove steaks. Note the relative lack of grill marks. Sprinkle with some more salt. Crack fresh peppercorns over the surface of the meat. Place on a warm plate and wrap in foil.
3. Open up the vents on the grill and let it get hot. Like 600F+.
Grease two grill plates:
1. We have these amazing little cast iron grill plates that I received from the “Hall of Fame” in laws. I don’t know where they found them, but if you don’t have one, a small cast iron skillet is your best bet.
2. Cut up a couple Tbsp of regular, salted butter.
3. Put the plates on the grill and let the butter get hot and melty-sizzly.
1. Once the butter is melted and sizzling, put each filet down. Close the grill.
2. Wait 2 minutes and flip. Close grill again.
3. Wait two more minutes and remove from the grill.
4. Put them on a second, clean warm plate. Wrap in foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
We ate these with a simple green salad and some organic brown rice pilaf from the rice cooker.

Mongolian Beef

Tonight’s recipe comes from Thanks to Pinterest, I can now see other people’s pictures of foodporn and go and do likewise. So I figured I’d go ahead and give credit where credit is due. Thanks!!


1 lb of flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise (we used pre-cut fajita meat)
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic (about 2 -3 large cloves)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 large green onions, sliced crosswise into thirds
White rice

Setup the rice cooker:

1. Add 1 cup white rice.
2. Add 2 cups water.
3. Press the button to begin heating the rice.
4. Wait till water comes to a boil and begins to reduce down.
5. Keep an eye on it and stir as needed so that the rice doesn’t stick to the walls of the cooker.

Prepare the meat:

1. Pat the steak slices dry and mix them with the corn starch.
2. Using your hands or a spoon, move them around to make sure all pieces are coated.
3. Place beef slices in a strainer and shake off excess corn starch.

Make the sauce:

1. Heat half of the oil in a large wok or saute pan at medium-high and add the garlic and ginger.
2. Immediately add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes.
3. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look thick enough at this point. The corn starch in the beef will thicken it up later.

Cook the meat and assemble dish:

1. Turn the heat up and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook, stirring until it is all browned.
2. Pour the sauce back into the wok and let it cook along with the meat.
3. Add the green onions on the last minute so the green parts will stay green and the white parts crunchy.
4. Serve it hot with rice.

Tailgating with Beef Brisket

I’ve smoked pork butts and ribs in the past. But , until recently, I’d always been a little intimidated by beef brisket. I never felt comfortable holding a consistent low temp for as long as needed for a brisket until I moved to the Big Green Egg. My old smoker was leaky and drafty. Ribs and butts are forgiving enough for that to be OK, but a brisket always seemed to be an expensive experiment until I got my Egg. This is my second brisket. I had to pull this one off early in the morning and keep it hot until lunch time on the Quad at the University of Alabama. The good news is, other than the platesetter, this recipe didn’t require any specific equipment other than a disposable drip pan and a pair of tongs. I did not use an accessory to maintain the temperature, nor did I use a wireless thermometer to monitor the fire. I did use a ($10) digital pen thermometer to check the internal temperature and make sure the meat was fork tender the next morning. I planned to document this process beforehand, regardless of the results and put this up. Luckily, it worked out pretty well. This post is intended to document a single brisket cook, not necessarily be a guide for how to cook a brisket every time. For one, I am still learning this cut of meat. Also, cooking a 10 or 12 lb whole packer brisket (which I didn’t have for this cook) is going to take more time.

Yellow mustard
Black peppercorns
Pilleteri’s Seasoning (composed of mostly garlic, onion, salt, red pepper)
1 beef brisket
Prepare the Big Green Egg (9:20 pm):
Other than seasoning the meat to your liking, this is the most important step of this recipe. If your fire is not right, you run the risk of it either going out or burning too hot. Brisket needs time to render the collagen before the meat will become tender. You’re looking to hit one of two pretty precise temperature ranges and keep the temp there for hours. I aimed to keep the grate temperature at the high end of the lower temperature range of 225 – 250F. This meant keeping a dome temperature of about 270.
1. You need a lot of natural lump charcoal for this one. Rather than pouring coal into the firebowl, I hand placed individual coals around the electric starter. I also hand placed 5 or 6 chunks of mesquite for smoke. I filled the firebowl and then allowed coal and wood to spill over into the fire ring as well. This is going to be a fairly long cook and you don’t want to disassemble your hot grill to re-light.
2. Start the fire. I use an electric starter. You want this to be a gentle and gradual fire. I left the electric starter in the grill for no more than 3 or 4 minutes. I opened the bottom vent completely and put the DMFT on, but rotated it open completely as well.
3. Stay with the grill. It will take a few minutes for it to heat up, but once it begins to heat up and produce smoke, it will heat up relatively quickly. With your Egg, you’re looking to catch the temperature on the way up, because there is no good way to quickly get the temperature back down.
4. At about 240 degrees, I started to close down the vents.
5. Once the fire is stable and you’re close to your intended temperature, open the Egg and add the platesetter, inverted, for indirect heat. Put down a drip pan (a 13×9 pan is the perfect size for the Medium Egg and a 5 lb flat cut brisket. Add about an inch of water to the drip pan. Place the cooking grid on the platesetter feet, over the drip pan.
6. Close the grill and allow the preheated grill to bring the platesetter and drip pan back up to temperature.
Prepare brisket for the Egg:
1. Remove the brisket from the packaging. Blot dry with a paper towel.
2. Trim away excess fat. Anything beyond 1/8 to 1/4″ is too much fat cap. The fat will help keep the meat moist, but you will lose some of your seasoning when you slice the meat if you don’t trim it some.
3. Place brisket, remaining flat cap up, on a sheet of aluminum foil and rub mustard over the surface of the meat. The mustard is the glue for your seasoning. It will cook off entirely and not leave a mustard flavor behind.
4. Crack black peppercorns across the mustard.I have a friend who uses black peppercorns almost exclusively as his rub. He literally crusts the brisket with black pepper. Regardless of whether you’re looking to use black pepper exclusively or a rub with other ingredients, you want to completely cover the mustard with seasoning.
5. Flip the brisket over. Apply mustard and rub liberally to the other side.
6. Cover in foil. Some people will tell you to let this sit overnight in the fridge. In this case, I wanted my Dad to see the entire process, so I did everything in a single session.
Add the brisket to the Egg (10 pm):
1. Open the Egg. Lay the brisket, fat cap down, across the cooking grid and over the drip pan.
2. Close the lid. Stay with the grill until it returns to your target temp. Check on it after about 30 minutes before you get comfortable enough to go to sleep.
3. Set a couple of alarms. I set one for 3:05 am and another for 5:30 am. I anticipated the meat to be ready after about 1.5 hours per lb. So I was looking for it to be finished between 5:30 and 6 am.
4. Go to sleep.
Alarm #1 (3:05 am):
1. Leave the lid closed.
2. Check the thermometer. My dome temp had risen to about 290. Not a crisis, but warmer than I wanted it to be.
3. At that point, I decided to open the grill and flip the brisket. If the temp had stayed between 270 and 280, I would not have opened it and flipped it. I also made some minor vent adjustments. I knew the temp wouldn’t drop immediately, but over time, this would bring my temp back to normal.
4. Go back to sleep.
Alarm #2 (5:30 am):
1. Fire is still burning. It returned to about 270 where I wanted it to be.
2. Insert digital thermometer. Different how-tos will tell you different target internal temps where your brisket will be fork tender (basically in a range from 185 to 205F). I was aiming to pull this somewhere around the 200F mark. At 5:34 am, it was at 204 and I was glad that I didn’t wait until 6 to get up and check it.
3. I laid out two sheets of aluminum foil. And put a fresh towel in the dryer (yes, in the laundry room) to spin and get warm.
4. Pull the brisket, wrap tightly in the aluminum foil. Wrap warm towel around the foil. Put in a cooler. You want for the brisket to rest for no less than 1 hour before you slice it. I had to keep it warm for 5 and a half hours until lunch.
Lunch (11:15 am):
1. Crossed my fingers. Unzipped the cooler. Pulled the aluminum foil wrapped brisket from the towel. Still hot to the touch!
2. Unwrapped foil and sliced the flat, across the grain.
3. At this point, I’m probably dealing with about 3.5 lbs of meat. It fed about 10 of us pre-game lunch. And there was a little leftover after the game. None of it made the drive home. Roll Tide!