I developed this recipe as a submission to a Food52 contest, the theme of which was “Your best dish you (intentionally) set on fire.” When I think of foods intentionally set on fire, classical Steak Au Poivre springs to mind. I came up with a riff on that stalwart French dish, and took it through the pantry of Puebla, Mexico… all the better to include the darkest and most devilish ingredients suitable for a dance in the flames. I held on to the technique, as well as the key elements (peppercorns, cognac, cream, and butter), but added a molé-reminiscent list of spices, plus the devil’s brew in the form of ground coffee, to the steak rub. Out of the flames comes a rich, dark, and spicy pan sauce, perfect over a seared steak topped with a charred chilé.
Steak Au Poivre Du Diable
- 2 boneless strip steaks (such as NY steaks)
- 1 tablespoon fresh, coarsely-ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coffee
- 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tablespoon ground chile pasilla molido (may substitute ground New Mexico chile)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated into 1 tablespoon portions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup cognac
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 fresh jalapeňo or large serrano chiles
- to taste sea salt
- Salt steaks generously a few hours in advance.
- Make dry rub: Combine ground black peppercorns, coffee, cocoa, ground chile, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar, and stir until incorporated. Set aside.
- At preparation time, char jalapenos over stovetop flame (hold with metal tongs) until skin is bubbly and blackened, and set aside.
- Pat steaks dry. Work dry rub into both sides of each steak.
- Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter together in large saucepan.
- Once oil and butter are hot, add steaks. Flip only once in order to get a nice, dark sear on each side. (2-4 minutes per side depending on thickness of steaks and desired done-ness.)
- Remove steaks from pan and set aside; tent with foil. Pour off remaining butter and oil.
- Keeping pan off heat, pour in the cognac.
- Dip pan, away from you, so that the cognac settles to where it is just touching the burner, as you return it to the heat. You should be rewarded with a nice flame emanating from the edge of the pan that touches the burner. Level the pan and shake vigorously and carefully over the heat until the flames subside.
- Stir in cream and bring to a boil. Stir often until sauce thickens and reduces.
- Stir in last tablespoon of butter until incorporated and the sauce looks glossy, and remove from heat.
- Slice steaks on a bias and plate each of them; drizzle with a generous helping of pan sauce and top each with a charred chile. Sprinkle with a good finishing salt, and serve.