Haven’t passed on any recipes lately, so I’m excited to share one of my successful creations of the fall season. Plus, I’m always really proud when I figure out a way to serve game meats in a fashion that would please even non-game-eaters. The concept is far more important than the recipe here. The fundamental is a ‘steak au poivre’ french classic – the Cambozola sauce happened because it was in my fridge, and I knew ‘blue cheese’ paired well with red meat. So here’s how I suggest giving it a shot.
good quality tender cut of red meat
black peppercorns [whole]
cream [i used 18%, 10% or 35% would work fine]
cambozola [local grocer or cheese shop will have this]
butter [2-3 tbsp…okay, maybe 4-5]
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced
Okay, this is simple. The idea is ‘cracked’ coarse pepper. Crunch up the peppercorns with a mortar/pestle, pan, or whatever JUST until there are no more whole ones. Cut the meat into the portion you want, and rub it generously with the very coarse pepper. Season carefully with salt. Heat the butter until the foaming subsides, and fry the meat gently until it looks really good. Flip it, salt again, and cook until it’s done how you like. The next bit is important: take it out, put it on/in a dish and cover with foil to let it rest while you make the sauce as follows:
If you browned the meat at a nice pace, the pan should have some residual butter and nice brown ‘fond’ or stuck on bits. Throw in the onion and garlic – they’ll pick up a lot of the brown colour from the meat frying. Fry for a couple minutes. Pour in the cream. Basically enough for the amount of sauce you want. Let it simmer, stirring to get every last bit of stuck on stuff incorporated into the sauce. Add what you’d consider 3-4 bites of cheese per person to the sauce, and stir it until it disolves. It will thicken the sauce beautifully. Add a pinch or two of salt. Taste it. Add another pinch or two of salt. Stop when all the flavours are popping, and before it gets too salty. If it gets too thick on you, add a bit more cream, or water to cut it.
Serve the sauce on the meat with mashed potatoes or another favorite fall veg. You won’t be disappointed.
An important note about pan-frying meats: the heat you’re looking for in your pan is ‘just’ enough to keep it bubbling and sizzling. If it’s quiet, your heat’s too low. If it’s frying fast and hard – that’s not good. My burner knobs read 1-9. I start frying on 4-5, and once the food in the pan starts to heat up, I can turn it down to between 3 and 4 while still maintaining enough heat.
An important note about doneness: press down on the meat when it first hits the pan. It will give under your pressure quite a bit. As it cooks, the meat will travel towards hardness. Your goal is to catch it somewhere in the middle. Where exactly that is will depend on taste and experience. And if you don’t like meat bleeding on your plate – REST IT UNDER FOIL for a few minutes. It continues to cook, and the ‘doneness’ becomes more even through the piece of meat. Sounds fussy, but it makes a huge difference.
For another wicked culinary idea – which coincidentally also combines nasty cheese and red meat -check out Holden’s BBQ Southwest Bison Sandwich in his Nov 9 2006 blog entry at http://holdend77.blogspot.com/. Huge props, man. Love to see it.