Thanks to its being grown so many places, pepper is no longer out of reach of all but the rich. It has become one of the necessities of cooking and appears in the recipe for almost every savory dish. But there are a few dishes in which pepper is more than just a back note.
Many countries have classic dishes that combine pepper and beef—because it’s a great flavor combination. I first had bistecca alla fiorentina—steak Florentine—in a small restaurant in Florence when I was 15 and still traveling with my parents. This consists simply of grilling a thin steak and then, just after pulling it off the grill, squeezing lemon juice over it and sprinkling it generously with freshly ground black pepper. That’s it. But there are great beef and pepper combos worldwide.
France’s steak au poivre is, in my opinion, the king of pepper and beef dishes. I first had this in the historic district of Montreal, decades ago. It’s gorgeous, but it’s not that hard to make, and it has, since that time, become a favorite dish to serve to guests or simply to reward myself for making it through another week. Continue reading