I haven’t made Steaks at home in quite sometime now. If memory serves me right, it has been over a year. On SYTYCC, our resident baker extraordinaire, Terry put up a good eats alert about a falafel restaurant in Paris. This got me thinking about the best Sirloin Steak and Peppercorn Sauce that I have ever had in my life, which also happens to be in Paris. The French are great at all things food, but surprisingly this restaurant is owned by a Middle Eastern, and it is a hidden jewel in Paris that you just have to try if you ever find yourself in Paris. Sadly, I couldn’t remember the name, but I tried my best to describe it to him and after an exhaustive and funny 1 hour search, he found it. I was really psyched. His review of the Steak and the sauce was that it was exceptional and worthy of the long and tiring walk to find it. SCORE!!!!! People, it is called Le Chateau Landon, located close to the Chateau Landon Metro stop about 1 minute walk away. To find it, just stop at The Gare du Nord station, and walk for roughly 5 – 7 minutes walk. This bistro is right opposite the Ibis Paris Gare du Nord Chateau Landon Hotel.
Finding this restaurant was quite a happy accident that made me shake my head about the way fate works. You see, my very first time in Paris I stayed at the Ibis hotel right opposite it for 7 nights and not once did I eat at this place. I must have walked past it tens of times and not once did I give it a passing glance. It was even quite funny because right opposite it on the other side of the road, was a kebab shop where I also ate the best kebab in my life. My girlfriends and I ate kebab at this shop at least 3 times, and we nicely walked across this lovely restaurant back to our hotel, without looking in, a huge loss for the girls. Paris is my favourite city and I always find myself going back. On another trip, I booked a hotel close to Gare du Nord as I was only using Paris as a short stop for 3 nights before my main destination, Verona in Italy.
On my the first night, I quickly changed into jeans, a tee and slippers and happily skipped to the kebab place. Imagine my shock and despair when I got there and found it closed. I was really upset and hungry to boot. It was already getting late and I was in no mood to take the train to the another area in Paris where I know they serve good food. I crossed the road to go ask at the reception of The Ibis hotel where else I could eat in the area and suddenly my eyes spied this small restaurant right opposite. I thought okay, I’ll eat here and boyyyyyyy, life changing experience. Till date every steak I have ever had (until today), I compare to this one and nothing so far has come close.
Imagine having that placed right in front of you, for a price that will make you widen your eyes in shock, 16 Euros. I remember telling the waiter to take the sauce away because I hated Peppercorn sauce (i detest black pepper). In his cute french-arab accent he said try it, if you still don’t like it, I will take it away. I took a tiny bit with chips and was stunned at how good it was. People, I asked for 3 refills before my meal was done. I used chips to wipe the bowl clean. It was that good. Terry said the sauce was exceptional. Like the steak, this sauce too hasn’t been beaten yet anywhere else. This was Terry’s plate
Despite asking for the recipe, they politely smiled and declined, but thinking back now, because of their Middle Eastern heritage, I can bet that there is something else in that sauce. Something found in their culture, which made the sauce unique. This prompted me to making my own the Nigerian way, using Uziza seeds as they are the closest relative to black peppercorn.
This was soooooooooooo good, and what a way to rekindle my love for steaks again. The French call it Steak au Poivre (peppercorn steak), this is Steak au Uziza with cream of Uziza sauce. This is so simple to make, you need only 2 ingredients. I am going to start a conversation on Facebook because of my experience with making this. We now have to consider that we probably over season our meats, so much so that we lose the real taste of meat. I only made this with Uziza seeds and salt. I was astounded by how delicious it was. I could actually taste meat, and not just overpowering spices. This wasn’t even butchers high-grade Sirloin Steak, but something I quickly picked up in a Tesco store. Imagine if I made this with high quality organic meat?
For the Steak, You will need
1 tsp of Uziza seeds per steak
Sirloin Steak – or any other steak you can find that cooks fast (steak which is for braising and slow cooking may not work)
For The Sauce, You will need
1 tablespoon of Cream
1 tablespoon of Water
1/4 cup of brandy/Cognac
1/4 cup of beef stock
1. Measure your 1 teaspoon of uziza seeds. Don’t use too much as it will turn bitter
2. Proceed to crush the uziza seeds slightly in a spice grinder
you can either use a wooden spice grinder or use an electric mill. If using a mill, do NOT grind the seeds to a fine powder. You need some roughness and even some seeds to be partially crushed
this is what you should be aiming for
3. On your kitchen work top, add a sprinkling of salt and spread it out.
I feel I have to write this for the benefit of people who steak may not be easily accessible to pick up in a supermarket or a butcher in the market. I have added this picture as a guide. I am sure if you show this picture to a butcher in your local market, you can have him cut out Steak for you to take home. Even butchers in markets in Nigeria for example will be able to do this, because they know which parts of the cow they have on their table.
what I have in the picture below are Sirloin Steaks. From the picture above, you can see what part of the cow gives us Sirloin Steaks
4. Lightly rub the steak with oil, just lightly, to allow the ground uziza seeds and salt to stick
place the steak over the spread out uziza and salt and press down, until the rough seeds sink into the meat. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you need the uziza seeds to really sink into the meat, otherwise when you cook, they will fall out, defeating the purpose. For the other side, just lightly rub it against any powdery that is left on the work top.
5. Heat up a pan with about a tablespoon or less of oil. Ensure that the pan is very hot, because you are going to flash cook the steak. Once hot, add the steak to the pan with the side that has the seasoning first.
it will sizzle and crackle, this is what you want. Leave it on for about a minute or two, depending on how well done you like your steak, after which you flip it over and let the other side cook for about 1 minute. This sirloin is quite thin, and the duration I stated was just enough, if you want medium rare. If you want it properly well cooked, lay the steak on a baking tray and place in the oven at 150 degrees centigrade for another 2 – 3 minutes. No more, or it will be dry and chewy.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you may ask, why don’t i just finish it off in the pan, actually you can if you’ve got really high quality meat. I found that this one gets dry if you complete the entire cooking process in the pan.
Whichever way you choose, either finishing off in the pan or in the oven, you will need to take the Steak out and place in the oven or microwave to keep it warm while you crack on the sauce which takes roughly 3 minutes to cook.
6. Once the steak is out of the pan, you will see bits of the juice of the steak and part of the seasoning left in the pan, this is just what you want
add the brandy to the pan while it is still hot, and it will sizzle and form a cloud. Stand well back please
because of the high temperature of the brandy, the alcohol will burn off and even most of it will evaporate, leaving a delicious smelly liquid. This was 1/4 cup of brandy, see what was left after a few seconds
7. Then add the beef stock. You can use beef stock pots lightly diluted with warm water to make 1/4 cup of beef stock. I used homemade beef stock.
Once the beef stock is in, lower the heat a little and let it simmer, till you get this
8. Then add the tablespoon of cream and stir. it will likely curdle a bit, just stir till the cream combines well to form a sauce
then you add a tablespoon of water
go check on the steak where you kept it to keep warm, and you would see that it has released more of its juice while resting.
Add it to the sauce and then leave it to simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and you are done.
I didn’t need to re-season again because the juice from the meat and the beef stock made sure the sauce was perfect.
Drizzle some of the sauce over the steak and serve what is left separately in a small bowl, and you are done. There’s your Steak au Uziza with cream of Uziza Sauce. You are not going to believe how delicious this is. I was repeatedly asking myself, you mean you didn’t season this steak with the myriads of things we are used to adding, and it tastes this good. Just uziza and salt + beef stock. WOW
Serve with Yam Mash and that is a bountiful Steak Lunch, cooked Nigerian. This was served on Day 1 as Saturday dinner.
I repeated it on Day 2, for Sunday Lunch, this time served with Yam Chips
In conclusion, the French have got nothing on us. End of discussion. hehehehehe
I would like to hear from you guys. What do you think about us over seasoning our meats. Would you try this at home?