July signifies the celebration all things French in the Franschhoek area, including Bastille Day. So when the team from La Motte asked me to create a recipe that celebrates French heritage as a pairing to their iconic Millennium Bordeaux-style blend, I was already chanting “Allez Le Bleus”!
They sent me a fabulous box of French-inspired goodies to get my creative gears turning – from delicious authentic French butter to Dijon mustard, shallots, garlic, thyme, French brie, baguette, dried herbes de Provence and fleur de sel. I browsed through a selection of classic French recipes and was drawn to steak au poivre with frites – steak with a creamy peppery mustard sauce and chips. My final choice was a spin on the usual, using pork neck steaks from my local butchery at Joostenberg, a creamy sauce made from pan-fried shallots, garlic, thyme, Dijon mustard and a shot of brandy, finished with lots more fresh herbs and served with a side dish of golden French fries with lots of fleur de sel.
The recipe is easy to make and mostly happens in one pan (except for the frites, which you can also substitute with oven baked fries or even mashed potato). I adore the combination of pork and mustard, but you can totally also use beef fillet or something similar if pork is not your favourite.
If you want to make some of this ahead, start by blanching the sliced fries and set them aside to cool. Chop your shallots, garlic and herbs and set aside. The rest can be done straight before serving and only takes about 10-15 minutes. Serve with La Motte’s Millennium red blend. Bon appetit!
Notes: I like to thicken my sauce slightly with a teaspoon of flour, but you can omit that if you prefer a thinner sauce. If you like a slight hint of sweetness in your mustard sauce, use a dash of sweet wine like sherry or straw wine, along with the brandy or as a substitute.
Ingredients: (serves 2)
45 ml (3 tablespoons) butter, plus extra
2 large thick-cut pork neck steaks (or pork chops, if you prefer)
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 small shallots, peeled & chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few sprigs thyme, woody stalks discarded
5 ml (1 teaspoon) cake flour, optional
25 ml brandy (optional)
30 ml (2 tablespoons) Dijon mustard
a splash of Worcester sauce
250 ml fresh cream
a handful fresh chives and/or parsley, finely chopped
For the frites:
2 large potatoes, peeled & sliced into medium-thin fries
vegetable oil, for frying (I prefer Canola)
salt, to taste
For the frites: If you’re making French fries from scratch, boil the sliced potato in salted water for 5-7 minutes, then drain and set aside. Heat about 3-4 cm deep oil in a medium pot over medium heat – then carefully drop the blanched chips into the hot oil when the oil is ready (test one to see if it sizzles, the oil should be hot but not smoking hot). While the fries are cooking, continue with the steak and sauce as set out below (the fries cook for about 7-10 minutes, after which you can drain them on kitchen paper and transfer to a preheated oven at 180 C to keep warm until the steak is ready to serve).
For the steak: place a skillet over high heat and heat to smoking point. Drop in the butter, give it a swirl and add the steaks, seasoning them with salt & pepper. Cook on both sides until charred and brown (about 3 minutes on a side), then turn off the heat and transfer to a plate to rest (you’ll continue to cook it in the sauce shortly). Return the pan to the stove top over low heat, add the shallots, garlic and thyme and cook until soft and golden, stirring often. Add the flour (optional) and stir, then add the brandy, mustard and Worcestersauce and stir well. Add the cream and stir, then bring to a simmer. Season generously with black pepper and a pinch of salt, then return the steaks to the pan to cook for a further 5 minutes over low heat. Test to see if the steaks are fully cooked (the inside should be tender but not raw). Remove from the heat when it’s ready, then scatter with fresh herbs and serve at once, with the warm fries.
This recipe was created in proud collaboration with La Motte. Shop the La Motte 2018 Millennium online.