Last weekend, I went on a road trip down to Mesquite, Nevada, to attend the annual meeting of the Nevada Farm Bureau. I saw parts of the state that were new to me, drove on the Extraterrestrial Highway (without an alien incident), and got to reconnect with many folks who I hadn’t seen in years. I am pleased to report that at least four different people talked to me about The Fallon Post and this column. I love knowing that y’all are reading about my silly adventures and worldview. Hopefully, some of you are even trying out the recipes and are maybe being a little bit more daring in the kitchen.
There were lots of conversations about agriculture in Nevada. Farmers are a hard-working group of people. It isn’t a vocation for the faint of heart, and you certainly don’t farm in Nevada to get rich. I bore witness to their commitment to a mission rooted in caring for their neighbors and also for people they would never meet. These farmers grow the fuel, food, and fiber that keeps food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and the freedom to move around this world. There was pride in the struggle to keep their farms running, their land in production, and to pass on their businesses and their way of life to the next generation.
Over dinner on the last night of the conference, one of my table companions asked me what I liked to cook best. My first thought was that my favorite meal was one that someone else prepared. Kidding-ish. But I enjoyed that night’s dinner. A medium filet mignon topped with brandy peppercorn sauce, individual loaves of twice-baked potatoes au gratin, and perfectly cooked asparagus with lemon butter sauce. My actual answer was that my favorite dish changes according to a variety of factors, primarily the time of year and what’s in season. Also, beans.
As we head into the holiday season, there are some awesome opportunities to be fancy. Here is a recipe for a couple of simple sauces, or sauces made simple, that can fancy up your dinner plates.
Brandy Peppercorn Sauce (for steak)
Recipe from Serious Eats
Pan with sticky bits left on it after cooking steaks
1 T olive oil
3 T finely chopped shallots
1 c beef stock
½ c heavy cream
¼ c brandy
2 T red wine
2 T green peppercorns in brine, drained
½ t chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- After removing steaks from pan, turn heat to high, add olive oil, and heat until shimmering. Add shallots and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in beef stock and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits off bottom of pan with a spoon. Let boil until reduced to around 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes.
- Add heavy cream, brandy, red wine, and green peppercorns. Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add in thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste; use immediately.
Blender Bearnaise Sauce
Recipe from The Spruce Eats
¼ c white wine vinegar
¼ c white wine
2 t shallots, minced
3 T fresh tarragon, chopped, divided
1 ¼ t kosher salt, divided
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 c unsalted butter, melted
- Combine vinegar, white wine, shallots, 1 T chopped tarragon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes until reduced to a few tablespoons. Cool slightly.
- Transfer cooled mixture with egg yolks and 1 teaspoon salt into a blender. Blend 30 seconds.
- With blender on, slowly pour hot butter through opening in lid. Add remaining 2 T tarragon leaves and blend for only a second.
- If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon of white wine to thin.