Originally published in quality newspapers the week of February 6, 2011
Let’s face it. Valentine’s Day is pretty much a chick’s holiday. I mean no disrespect with my use of the term “chick.” In professional settings I try to avoid gender-specific terms. What were once “councilmen" are now “councilpersons” and when have to refer specifically to a group of adult females I would never use a phrase like the “girls in the office.” But when it comes to February 14th, “chick” is what works as in it’s a chick’s rather than a dude’s holiday.
February 14 could come and go, as far as I’m concerned, and if I didn’t get a single card, or a piece of chocolate, I would not lose even a single wink of sleep over it and most of the other men I talk with feel the same. For me, and most of my fellow men, Valentine’s Day is more about giving than receiving and data from the National Retail Federation supports that suspicion noting that men’s expenditures are twice that of women’s with cards, jewelry, flowers, candy, and clothing as big-ticket items. I suspect, however, that much of that “clothing” might be worn by the women but really for the men.
As you might imagine, my Valentine’s Day presents yet another opportunity to get into the kitchen and prepare a dinner my Valentine will enjoy. I’m hearing from my male friends that an increasing number of them are also planning to cook this year for the women in their lives.
One benefit of talking the helm in the kitchen is that you can design a menu that you both will enjoy. This year I’m planning on making something very dude-friendly – red meat, with a special girly twist – a pink peppercorn cream sauce. Pink peppercorns, unlike their black, white, and green counterparts, have no piperine, which gives pepper its heat. Instead, they have sweet, spicy, citrus quality to them and their color turns the cream sauce a light pink.
Whether you are male or female, if you are planning to cook dinner at home this year, you may want to consider this dish. Serve it with some potatoes, a green salad, and something chocolate for dessert and it could be a very special Valentine’s dinner. And dudes even if you are cooking, you’ll probably still be on the hook for card, flowers, candy, and/or jewelry.
Filet Mignon Pink Peppercorn au Poivre
- 2 filet mignon steaks, about 1-1/2 inches thick
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons whole pink peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup Cognac,
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Bring steaks to room temperature and season both sides with the kosher salt. from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Use a mortar and pestle or zip-top bag and mallet to coarsely crush the peppercorns. Spreads two-thirds of the crushed peppercorns evenly on a small plate and press each side of the steaks into the pepper.
Heat a nonstick pan to medium-high heat and add the butter and oil. When hot, place the steaks in the pan. Cook about five minutes on each side for medium (less or more depending on how done you want them. Remove steaks from pan and pour off any of the oil and butter remaining.
Keep the pan off heat and add the Cognac to the pan. Carefully place pan back on the burner (it may flame) and let reduce by half then add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately five minutes. Whisk in the remaining cracked peppercorns and taste to see if additional salt is needed. Place steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.