When the cold weather arrives, Saucy looks forward to cooking over a hot stove. One of Veto's favourite meals is pepper steak. It's an old-school dish, cooked in one pan in about thirty minutes.
Key ingredients: red onion, dark beef broth or consomme, and of course, peppers... in more than one colour. They're good for you.
You'll also need two tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, red wine (a splash for you and a splash for the steak). You will need about one pound of steak cut into pieces suitable for a stir-fry.
What kind of steak should you use? Well, it doesn't really matter. If money is no object (and that's not the case for most of us) you can use a nice piece of tenderloin. If you are looking for value and flavour, a piece of round steak (top round or bottom round) will do nicely, but since this is a quick-cook recipe you should avoid eye of round, it needs a longer cooking method to get nice and tender.
Prep your veggies: slice the peppers into like-sized pieces and do so for the onion.
Cutting your veggies into like-sized pieces ensures even cooking and also a really nice presentation on your plate of what is essentially going to be a stew.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Drop the steak pieces in - they should sizzle when they hit the pan.
Here's the trick about browning meat for a dish like this: let the pan do the work. Let the meat cook over the heat getting nice and brown. Don't hover over the pan, stirring constantly. Let the pan sizzle and pop. Love the sound, love the smell.
Oh, and it's too early to season the meat. Just cook the meat. You can season it later.
Check it out - the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. That's a pan full of flavour, right there. When the meat is almost done (still slightly pink in the middle) you can remove it from the pan and set it aside in a dish.
Now, reduce the heat to medium and throw the onions in the pan. They'll get nice and dark with the brown drippings from the steak. When they are not quite cooked through, remove them from the pan to the steak pieces.
Next, throw the peppers in the pan and cook them the same way. They have a different cooking time than the onions so that's why you aren't cooking them together. Really, you're just going to toss them in the pan for a minute or two so they aren't overly crunchy - resist the urge to cook the peppers. Later, when they hit the sauce (and you do, too) they could get too soft and mushy and lose their nice bright colours. So pull them out of the pan quickly and throw them over the onions and steak.
Your pan is now ready to make the sauce. First, melt the butter over the medium heat.
Add the flour and whisk the mixture rigorously. You're making the base of your sauce here, also called a roux. Bring the roux to a gentle boil over a medium-low heat. See the bubbles? That's good. You need to see the bubbles so you know the flour mixture is cooked through and your finished sauce won't taste pasty.
Here we go... now it gets fun. Pour the entire can of broth or consomme into the roux, whisking gently. You don't want the roux to get lumpy. Bring your heat to medium-high for a few minutes and the mixture will come to a gentle boil. Again, this ensures that the sauce doesn't taste like flour.
So now, if you have any wine left in your bottle, you can add a splash to the sauce. Say, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. How you like it. A dash of Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. You can go crazy if you want and add other seasonings, sometimes a sprinkle of garlic powder gets thrown in, or seasoning salt. It's up to you. You can't call yourself a cook if you don't experiment every now and again, right?
When the sauce is seasoned to your liking, add the cooked peppers/onion/steak to your pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about ten minutes. You can have another glass of wine while you set the table.
Really, this photo doesn't do the dish justice. You can blame the wine. Serve pepper steak over a bed of brown rice or even better, garlic mashed potatoes. It will make you wish for cold weather.