Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

As you might imagine, I have an orientation toward flaming foods. Nothing reads ‘fabulous‘ at the dinner table more than the sight of actual flames dancing across an entree or desert (or in this case, sauce.) I first caught the flambe bug while first learning to cook. I couldn’t resist the showy (show off!) nature of the technique. And this was waaay before I even figured out that I was fabulous so is it any wonder I tend to think fablulousness is more nature than nurture?

The directions for this week’s French Friday’s with Dorie recipe gave the option to either flame the cognac or boil it to break down the alcohol in this traditional type filet pan sauce. Uh huh. As if there is any option here! Hello!? While I am sure the boiling-it-down method works well, I will tell you right now that I will never find out for sure. I’m a flamer through and through. I was born this way.

These steaks were lovingly prepared for my brother and sister-in-law who have been spending the last few weeks getting to know their new daughter, born two weeks ago. Its too soon to know in which ways she was born but I can’t wait to find out. Children are born with so many ways, aren’t they? Her parents have wisely decreed that no visitors are allowed unless they bring food (smart, huh?) so I killed two birds with one stone, packed up my supplies (including dishes and cutlery) and made them this week’s Dorie victims…er….guests.

While we dined on filet I got my niece fix but before I could become a nuisance I had everything packed up and was out the door. Guerrilla bistro!

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Despite the highfalutin name this is the same basic filet with a pan sauce I’ve written about before detailing my lackluster feelings for the beef cut itself. These feelings have always been mitigated by the creativity that gets expressed with the simple, quick, and flavorful sauces made in the pan while the meat ‘rests’. While anything goes with these sauces, one that adds flame to the mix will get that much more of my appreciation. I can’t help it

I hope the other Doristas took a walk on the wild side and set fire to the pan for this one. Its really not very hard and its a sure way to get your dinner remembered. I can’t wait to read how they did! Follow this link for a listing of other Dorista’s post on this dish. (Once again I present the recipe here as Dorie herself has already distributed this one all over the internet.)

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak


Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

This is what you will need:

  • About 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, preferably Sarawak pepper (that’s what’s used at Paul Bert), or a mix of peppercorns
  • 4 filets mignons, 1 to 1½ inches thick, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon mild oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup Cognac, or other brandy (plus a splash more if desired)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt

This is how you make it:

  1. The peppercorns need to be coarsely cracked, a job that’s done quickly and easily with a mortar and pestle. Lacking that, put the peppercorns in a kitchen towel so they don’t go flying about, and give them a couple of bashes with the bottom of a heavy skillet or the heel or back of a knife.
  2. Sprinkle some peppercorns on both sides of each steak, and use the palm of your hand to press them into the meat.
  3. Put a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat – I use a cast-iron pan – and add the oil and butter.
  4. When the butter has melted, slip in the steaks and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes for rare steaks, or a minute or so longer if you like your beef more well-done.
  5. Flip them over and give them another 2 to 3 minutes in the pan, then transfer them to a warm plate and cover them loosely with a foil tent.
  6. Pour off all of the fat in the pan, but leave any bits of steak that have stuck to the bottom; let the pan cool for a minute or so.
  7. Now you’ve got a decision to make: to flame the Cognac or to just let it boil down. If you decide to flame it, pour it into the pan, stand back, and set a match to the Cognac.
  8. When the flames have subsided, stir to scrape up whatever bits of meat are in the pan.
  9. If you just want to boil the Cognac, put the pan over medium heat, pour in the Cognac, and let cook until it’s almost evaporated; scrape up whatever bits of steak have stuck to the pan.
  10. When you’ve reduced the Cognac, lower the heat and add the cream.
  11. Swirl the pan and let the cream bubble gently for 2 to 3 minutes.
  12. Salt with care.
  13. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve immediately.


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. So beautiful! 🙂

  2. Gorgeous looking steak…and those frites are to die for!

  3. Love your post, as usual you made me smile!! I chose to flame and it was a first for me!! Your photos are wonderful!! And your steak looks delicious!!

  4. Lovely steak! I’m expecting you to show up with steak when my next baby is born, okay? 😛

  5. Love the “Guerrilla bistro” and great looking steaks! Okay…I’m flaming mine next time 😉

  6. Yum! Reading these posts right before lunch has turned out to be a huge mistake.

  7. guerrilla bistro style, huh? sounds like the name of your next blog. lovely pics.

  8. Twin!!! You are getting me hungrier by the post. Makes me want to come out and play in the sandbox. Hope to be back soon. Until then I will live vicariously through you. B:)

  9. Your notion of “guerilla bistro” made me laugh. Your brother and sister-in-law must have loved that you brought something other than a post-baby casserole. I like the way you write–I’ll definitely be following your blog in the future!

  10. Looks wonderful! I’m sure your brother and sister-in-law appreciated the meal.

  11. Always love your posts…and your steak/meal are just perfect and made for the best reason ever. And your enthusiasm shines. And your fries “secret” is safe with me. Beautiful work.

  12. Oh, Trevor. What are we going to do with you?

    Thank you for the mid-day smile.

  13. You know I love your writing & sense of humor – and I noticed you did not mention the Frites in your post, but posted a subtle shot with a McDonald’s bag in the background! Trevor, say it ain’t so!

  14. Gorgeous pictures! Next time I make this I need to add the fries!! 🙂

  15. Bravo! You need to take a big bow for this post! Well done (or is that medium rare?) LOL

  16. “Doristas”…love that! Love your post and photos also – nicely done. The parsley adds a pretty burst of color!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I may never resolve the question of whether I’m more entranced by the beef or the sauce, but there is no question that, once more, your beautiful image has lit a flame in my heart.


  18. I’m glad my hubby is in good company with another ketchup fan 🙂 Your photos are drool worthy as always!

  19. Gasp! I caught wind of the secret to your fries. Your steak looks absolutely wonderful, Trevor, and not just because you made it with so much love for your family. I’ll have to implement that policy if and when I’m pregnant!

  20. Your steaks look fab! I’m definitely going to try the flamed sauce version next time. i just didn’t want to singe my eyebrows off this time. Nice Gaga reference by the way!

  21. To flame or not to flame? I agree with the very clear choice on this. You’re a thoughtful uncle to fortify the new parents with a (guerilla) bistro meal. Love the idea of the fries. They are hard to beat.

  22. I am loving all your photos and commentary on this authentic looking bistro meal, I think it’s good to be a natural born flamer if your steak and frites look this good;-)

  23. This Dorista sat out the recipe this week, but I want to see if I can do this without setting the kitchen on fire. Your steak looks fantastic and what a wonderful thing to make it for your brother and sister-in-law. I am sure they enjoyed your company and your meal.

  24. Love that you included the “packaging” in that shot – secret ingredient indeed. I still miss all the transfats 🙂 Loved your writing as usual, and so glad to hear that you had a successful week and were able to share it. I can not even begin to think how delighted I would have been for someone to provide a guerilla bistro after one of my sons. And I would have been happy for the whole thing to come out of that red and white bag (desperate times indeed). Awesome post.

  25. Guerrilla bistro is a great concept. I want some of those fries!!

  26. Oh, what a great post. My last couple of weeks have been manic, and I just couldn’t get to this. Flame! Of course!! Ah, at least I got to read your post. Good work!! (as usual!)

  27. I love your meat.

  28. That’s a great post, I especially love the idea of guerrilla bistro. Just one question: did those fries come out of the McDonald’s bag or is it a red herring?

  29. If I had known flames were involved in this week’s Dorie dish, I would have been all over it. I cannot resist a hot flame. Never could. I guess I was born that way!