September is moo-ving right along, and the food celebrations continue. The 9th is National Steak au Poivre Day!
It’s also National Wienerschnitzel Day and National I Love Food Day. All of these choices sound celebration-worthy. This blog exists because we love food, so in that regard we’re celebrating our love of the edible all year long. We debated going with wienerschnitzel – there’s a great German restaurant right here in town – but I was intrigued by Steak au Poivre, so we decided to give that one a whirl.
Setting food on fire is always fun!
So what the heck is Steak au Poivre, besides difficult to pronounce? (It’s ah-pwav-er, but you have to roll your tongue and arch your back and hold your breath while reciting the alphabet backwards skipping every other letter). Just call it “pepper steak” instead. This French dish is made with steak (Julia Childs said, “This famous dish usually calls for individual tenderloin or loin strip steaks, but other cuts may be used if they are of top quality and tender”) steak coated with cracked peppercorns that form a crust, and then cooked in a hot skillet with butter and oil. It’s served with a pan sauce containing cognac and heavy cream. Yum!
Steak au Poivre is a descendant of Steak Diane, though its exact origins aren’t clear. Several chefs claim to have invented the dish in the 1920s and ’30s, but it was already a specialty at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo in 1910. Evidence suggests it may actually have royal origins: Leopold I, king of Belgium, was a skilled cook who came up with a recipe for beefsteak and peppercorns that certainly resembles modern-day Steak au Poivre.
To celebrate, we turned to the man who mixes science and food: Alton Brown. His recipe for Steak au Poivre looked remarkably simple – and it was! There’s nothing difficult about making this dish; it’s all about the flavors. And these were delicious: the sauce was earthy and creamy, the steak itself, peppered to perfection. We really enjoyed this meal!
Carnivores will have no beef with today’s food holiday. August 13 is National Filet Mignon Day!
Filet mignon is French for “cute” or “dainty” filet, and refers to the small portion size of a typical steak. O. Henry first coined the term in his novel The Four Million, published in 1906. It is derived from the tenderloin of the cow, which runs along both sides of the spine; the small end is typically sliced into 1-2″ thick filets that are nearly round in appearance. Despite its small size, the tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef, and therefore the most expensive. This explains why that cute, dainty little 6 oz. circle of beef on your plate cost the same as your dining companion’s more manly 14 oz. ribeye. Interestingly, a T-bone or porterhouse steak has the tenderloin down one side and a New York strip down the other, so it is essentially two steaks in one. As tender as the filet mignon is, it doesn’t contain much fat, so it is often wrapped in a strip of bacon before cooking for added flavor.
As with most steak, the simplest preparation is usually the best. Sear your filet mignon over high heat after seasoning with salt and pepper, cook to a perfect medium-rare, and let rest before cutting into it. If you work up a sweat trying to saw through the meat with a knife, you’ve overcooked it. If it “moos” when you slice into it, you haven’t cooked it quite long enough.
To celebrate, we grilled up some filet mignons we bought from the store. These were pre-made and already wrapped in bacon. They turned out pretty good!
Steak lovers will have no beef with today’s food holiday: April 27 is National Prime Rib Day!
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
Prime rib, originally known as a standing rib roast, is a cut of beef from the primal rib, one of the eight primal cuts of beef. It is called a “standing” roast because it is usually roasted in a standing position, with the ribs stacked vertically. Removing the bones from this cut and slicing it into steaks yields rib eyes. It’s unclear exactly when and where prime rib originated, but most historians believe roasts became popular during the Industrial Revolution, when hungry men desired a hearty meal after assembling widgets and other doo-dads all day long. Some cuts of meat are more popular than others, and prime rib has always been particularly sought after by beef connoisseurs. A nice slice of prime rib will contain the “eye” of the rib and the outer, fat-marbled muscle. It is typically rubbed with salt and other seasonings and slow roasted over dry heat for several hours. Prime rib is a popular “Sunday roast” in the U.K., where it is traditionally served with Yorkshire pudding. Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., mashed or baked potatoes are popular accompaniments.
April 27 also happens to be my birthday. The fact that it’s National Prime Rib Day is a happy coincidence, as prime rib is my favorite cut of steak, and I have a tradition of going to the Original Roadhouse Grill for prime rib on my birthday anyway. Or I used to, at least. It had been a few years, but today marked the perfect opportunity to reinstate that tradition. And, let me just say: the prime rib was amazing. Cooked a perfect medium rare, with an herb/salt crust, horseradish sauce, and au jus. It was to die for – the perfect birthday meal.