Are you looking for a special-yet-simple meal to dazzle your dinner date? Taste Master SA’s 2022 winner, Derick van Biljon, has the answer. His recipe for French pepper steak is perfection, especially when accompanied by an Alvi’s Drift wine pairing.
Anyone can make a reservation at a fancy restaurant. However, serving up a gourmet meal at home is far more impressive. We asked Foodie SA himself, Derick van Biljon, to share a show-stopping recipe, complete with Alvi’s Drift wine, that’s bound to get you into your partner’s good books for ages.
The Beauty of Filet Au Poivre
Filet au Poivre has only four ingredients: meat, seasoning, brandy and cream. It is dead easy to prepare and virtually foolproof – you need to be a complete flake to bugger it up!
French pepper steak will become your go-to meal for any special occasion you need to show up for. It’s a required skill, gentlemen: because sometimes a braai just won’t cut it.
Creating this dish happens in a flash. The flavour from the meat, pepper and brandy (used to lift all that grilled deliciousness from the pan) is everything you need to make a rich, creamy and eye-poppingly good sauce. It is sensational and by far my favourite way of preparing fillet.
In less than 30 minutes, you can treat your person to something truly spectacular and satisfying that’s really quite impressive. Instead of booking a table at another restaurant, give this wine and food pairing your personal effort. It won’t go unnoticed.
Sourcing the Best Meat for Your Food and Wine Pairing
Dry-aged meat is a buzzword in carnivorous circles these days, and there are only a select few suppliers in South Africa with the artistry and necessary care to perfect this age-old practice. Traditionally a method to preserve fresh meat for longer, modern chefs and foodies have cottoned on to the fact that dry ageing meat greatly improves flavour, tenderness and texture.
It requires much more skill, control, time and attention to detail, calling for the careful maintenance of a balanced environment, allowing the natural working of enzymes and micro-organisms to break down the muscle tissue. Apply this to the right animal: reared, finished, processed and stored in the correct manner, and what you get is something altogether magical!
Since the turn of the last century, Jacques van der Merwe’s family has been perfecting the practice of dry-ageing meat. Today, Kalahari Wildboasts some of the best agricultural products to be found anywhere in Southern Africa, maybe even on the continent.
Jacques’ family supplies responsibly sourced meat from farmers who pride themselves on sustainable animal husbandry – rearing free-range cattle on diverse pastures. Benefiting from natural nutrients and a longer life of physical activity. Free from antibiotics and growth hormones, and implementing mindful slaughtering practices… I think you get the picture.
The quality is immediately evident. Beef boasting the right colour, feel and texture, its natural marbling is unmistakable. It is by no means a stretch of the imagination for this farm-raised boerseun to confidently state, having eaten at the very best kitchens in the land, that Kalahari Wild sells the best beef I have ever tasted in my life.
Why Alvi’s Drift’s Sparkling Brut Nature Is the Perfect Filet Au Poivre Wine-Pairing Partner
Alvi’s Drift Brut Nature Cap Classique is the perfect marriage to your Filet au Poivre. This Chardonnay Pinot Noir bombshell has a bone-dry sense of humour and a charming, gold-leaf tan. Her figure is curvy, yes, but her personality is lively and effervescent. Her bubbles are fine, and her curly, blonde crown a delicate, light mousse. Her perfume is seductively appealing: baked brioche and lemon cream with hints of walnut and nougat. Her lips are chalky-dry, but her kiss is full and soft with notes of almond and stone fruit, ending with the lingering, lemony-cream memory of her gloss.
With each sip, Alvi’s Drift Brut Nature will revitalise the pallet and prepare you for the next bite of saucy, meaty goodness. The grounded umami sweetness in the aged meat, the salty, unctuous punch of the grill, the richness of the cream, the zingy nuttiness of the pepper, and the fragrant fruit of the bandy. All are set to seduce your senses for the sparkle that is to follow.
Her fine, moussy fizz lifting the fatty-saltiness, oxidising the taste buds to turbocharge the flavours in your mouth, leaving her buttery nougat to chase down the remaining peppery bite of the sauce. A vicious circle. A relentless tease. A progressive burn, edging ever closer to a glorious, inevitable flush of satisfaction. Bon Appétit!
Derick’s Filet Au Poivre and Alvi’s Drift Sparkling Wine Pairing
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes
Keep a lighter or matches on hand – if you don’t have a gas stove. You also need one 25 cm heavy base skillet or pan, grilling tongs, an ovenproof dish and a spoon.
- 2 x 250 g uniform New York cut beef fillet pieces, as thick as they are wide
- Fresh black/mixed peppercorns
- Maldon salt flakes
- 30 ml high-quality olive oil
- 30 ml canola oil – for grilling
- Double shot of brandy
- 500 ml fresh cream
- 1 x tsp. Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C.
- Coat the fillets in olive oil and roll liberally in freshly cracked black/mixed pepper, then allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Heat the pan with the canola oil on high heat until smoking hot.
- Generously season the fillets with salt just before cooking.
- Grill each side for about 3.5 minutes, or until a good, dark crust is achieved.
- Add the brandy and allow it to flame. Ignite the alcohol by tilting the pan on a gas burner or using a lighter/match for an electric stove. Then transfer the fillets to an ovenproof dish after the flames die out.
- Pop the meat into the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking.
- Pour the cream into the pan and simmer on medium-low heat until thick.
- Taste for seasoning and add the Dijon mustard.
- Serve on heated plates with a side of your choice. I suggest blanched and shocked tender-stem broccoli with charred peppers and sweet rosa tomatoes. And remember the all-important Alvi’s Drift Brut Nature sparkling wine pairing!
Uncover more mouth-watering Alvi’s Drift food and wine pairing recipes here.