Total time: 30 minutes + 30 minutes to bring steaks to room temperature
1½ tbsp black peppercorns
2 1-inch-thick New York strip steaks (about ½ lb each),
excess fat trimmed, at room temperature
2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup Cognac
2 small shallots, grated to a paste (preferably on a microplane)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup crème fraîche
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1. Put the peppercorns on a small rimmed baking sheet and crush them with a small heavy skillet; be sure not to bash them. Season each side of the steaks generously with salt, them mop up the crushed peppercorns with both sides of the steaks.
2. Heat a large heavy stainless steel skillet over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is smoking hot, carefully place the steaks in the skillet, laying them down away from you (so that if any hot fat splatters, it splatters away from you). Let the steaks cook until the underside is nicely browned and they don’t resist when you try to flip them, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side until well browned, another 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the steaks onto their fat edges and brown them until the fat is nice and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a serving dish or dinner plates and let them rest while you make the sauce.
3. Pour off and discard all but a very thin later of fat from the skillet. Take the skillet off the heat and add the Cognac. Carefully return the skillet to the heat–the alcohol should immediately burst into flames (not a bad thing!); if it doesn’t, ignite the Cognac with a long match or lighter. Once the flames have subsided, lower the heat to medium, add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring until the raw shallot aroma disappears, about a minute. Whisk in the mustard, crème fraîche, lemon juice and water. Season the sauce to taste with salt, and add more water if you prefer a looser consistency. Remove from the heat.
4. Whisk half the parsley into the sauce and sprinkle the steaks with the remaining parsley. Season each steak with a pinch more salt and scatter the lemon zest evenly on top. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve immediately.
From Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen by Dana Cowin. Copyright 2014 Dana Cowin. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.