THE MODERN STEAK : Sizzle From a Smaller Serving, and From a Green-Peppercorn Sauce

Betsy Balsley is food editor of The Times.

You crave a tender, juicy steak. But, like so many people, you're eating lighter these days and the temptation of an oversized portion of rich red meat creates more doubt than delight. But you can satisfy your taste buds as well as your conscience, particularly if you round up a few friends who share your hankering. Start with a thick, well-trimmed sirloin steak. Then, depending on whim and weather, you can get the barbecue going or roast the steak to perfection in the oven. To accompany its sizzling succulence, steam a few vegetables, toss a crisp green salad and prepare a palate-tingling Green-Peppercorn Sauce that will add an exhilarating flavor to the meat. For the recipe, please turn to Page 40. GRILLED SIRLOIN STEAK WITH GREEN-PEPPERCORN SAUCE 1 3-pound sirloin steak, cut 2-inches thick Salt, pepper Green-Peppercorn Sauce

Place steak on rack in shallow baking pan. Roast at 400 degrees 10 to 12 minutes per side for rare, 12 to 15 minutes per side for medium rare and 15 to 18 minutes per side for well done. (For best results, use a meat thermometer and undercook a few degrees.) Turn only once. Season to taste with salt and pepper after turning. When steak is done, remove from heat and place in warm spot for about 10 minutes to let juices set. To serve, carve across grain in thin slices, allowing 2 to 3 slices per serving. Serve Green-Peppercorn Sauce separately. Makes 6 to 10 servings.

Green-Peppercorn Sauce 1 cup beef stock, preferably unsalted 1/2 cup brandy 1/2 cup whipping cream 2 tablespoons green peppercorns 1/2 cup butter or margarine Salt, pepper

Combine stock, brandy and whipping cream in saucepan and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Boil until reduced by about half. Stir in peppercorns with a dash of their pickling juice. Cut butter into 4 to 6 pieces. Remove pan from heat and, with wire whisk, beat in butter pieces, one at a time, until sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Note: For a thicker sauce, blend 1 teaspoon cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons sauce before butter is whisked in. Stir mixture into rest of sauce and cook 2 minutes, then whisk in butter. FURNITURE AND TABLEWARE FROM MARK KRASNE INC., LOS ANGELES PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER FOOD STYLIST: OLIVIA ERSCHEN

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