Use your imagination here, and picture a gorgeous, silky looking sauce instead of a mess of onions. Because that’s what this is, even if the photos don’t show it. I made this the last two New Year’s Eves in a row, and I still can’t take a proper photo. Last year I forgot to buy shallots and used an onion instead (hence the jammy look of the sauce above).

Adam and I are not whoop-it-up-on-the-town people when it comes to New Year’s Eve. We both had food poisoning one year. One year we went to Paris for NYE to really live it up, and we were stuck on the metro at midnight still trying to get to the Eiffel Tower. Then, I had food poisoning the morning after that.

So now, we lay low. I make steaks, and we camp out in front of the TV with a fire going. It is blissful, and in 2013 and 2014 it involved this sauce. I like my steak medium rare, but as you can see above last year it was medium. I didn’t care. A sleeping toddler and a few glasses of wine in to NYE 2014, a medium steak just wasn’t going to ruin the evening. This is actually a steak au poivre recipe, but last year I skipped the peppercorns. They were a little strong, but I’m including them below. This recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Bookbook is honestly great either way.

Steak Au Poivre with Brandied Cream Sauce
Serves 4 (I make half the amount for the two of us)

4 top loin steaks (8-10 ounces each), 1 to 1.25″ thick, trimmed
4 tsp black peppercorns, crushed (not ground)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 minced shallot
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
5 Tbsp brandy
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt. Sprinkle the steaks with the peppercorns and press them into the steaks with your fingers (these photos are from last year when I just used salt and pepper).

brandy steaks 1

Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet to medium-high heat until it starts to smoke.

Add the steaks, peppered-side up (these photos are from last year when I skipped the peppercorns). Press on the steaks with a cake pan and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes.

Flip the steaks and continue cook, pressing again with the cake pan, 4-6 minutes depending on the temperature you like.

brandy steaks 2

Transfer the steaks to a plate and tent with foil.

Make the sauce while they rest: pour off all but 2 tsp of fat from the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the shallot (or onion) and cook until softened, 2 minutes.

Add the broths and 1/4 cup of the brandy, scraping up browned bits. Simmer 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.

brandy steaks 3

Stir in any accumulated meat juices from the steak plate and the cream.

brandy steaks 4

Simmer about 5 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter a piece at a time. Off the heat stir in the rest of the brandy and the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

brandy steaks 5
Spoon the sauce over the steaks before serving.