Look out! This improvisation involves a smoking steak, sizzling brandy, and that delicious browned meat gunk melted down with mushrooms and cream. All of the action happens in a single cast iron pan. Tonight we choose our New York strip and were rewarded with lean and tender meat that was tremendously flavorful. Our wine choice was a Sebastiani Merlot, and the plummy, peppery wine pairs well.

Recipe: Pan-Seared Steak au Poivre

1 lb New York strip steak / vegetable oil / chopped mushrooms / 1 clove garlic, minced / ¼ c brandy / ½ cup meat stock / ½ cup heavy cream / fresh thyme, leaves stripped / salt & cracked peppercorns

Heat 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, then saute mushrooms and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Set mushrooms aside and turn heat to high. Press salt and cracked peppercorns into steak, sear about 2-3 minutes per side, then set aside. Add brandy to pan, and when mostly evaporated add stock. Reduce briefly then turn heat down to low. Add cooked mushrooms, thyme, and cream to pan and reduce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the sauce is to your liking, warm steaks in the pan for another minute or two. Serves 2. It’s totally delicious.