Frank Converse's Pepper Steak with Brandy Sauce
2 pounds boneless sirloin, one-inch thick, cut in 4 pieces (or use boneless sirloin strip steak or top quality boneless steak of comparable weight and thickness)
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
5 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon minced shallots (or green onions)
2 tablespoons Cognac
3 tablespoons canned beef broth (or brown sauce)
Trim off excess fat, cut small incisions on edges of steak to prevent curling. Dry well with paper towels.
Crush peppercorns coarsely using mortar and pestle (or pepper mill set at "coarse" grind). With heel of hand, rub both sides of steak well with crushed pepper. Cover loosely with waxed paper, allow steak to stand at room temperature at least one hour (longer if a "pepperier" flavor is desired).
Rub seasoned large cast-iron skillet (or two small skillets) well with beef suet. Add 2 tablespoons butter and place over high heat until butter begins to foam. Saute steaks quickly over high heat to desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks to heated platter and season with salt.
To skillet add remaining butter, minced shallots (or green onions), and cook lightly. Pour in beef broth (or brown sauce), stirring often to keep pan from glazing. Add Cognac and cook quickly to reduce volume by one-third. Remove from heat. Swirl in remaining butter, one-half tablespoon at a time. Pour sauce immediately over steak. Garnish each steak with parsley. Serve with fried potatoes, crisp watercress salad flavored with lemon-oil dressing, and chilled rose wine. Serves 4.
Thoughts: If desired, prepare one large hunk of steak. Use skewers if necessary to keep steak intact. Omit brandy sauce. Serve steak plain, topped with parsley or garlic butter. Garnish with watercress.