Steak with green peppercorns

This is a recipe that I cannot reproduce precisely because I “play it by ear” every time I make it. I give approximate amounts, but do not treat these as gospel. It is exceptionally good.

Four 8-10 ounce (or so) high quality steaks (shell, porterhouse, rib eye, etc.), preferably dry aged.
1/2 c green peppercorns (usually found packed in vinegar or brine)
2 TB butter
2 TB finely minced shallots
2/3 c heavy cream
1/2c  Calvados (apple brandy)*

Mash the peppercorns to a coarse paste. Rub on all sides of the steaks. Put the steaks one atop another and cover with a cutting board weighted with some canned goods. Let sit for at least an hour, at room temperature. Scrape most of the pepper off the steaks, leaving more or less pepper according to taste. Discard excess pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot. Test by dipping your finger into water and flicking a few droplets into the pan. If it is hot enough they will form little round balls that skitter around the pan for a few seconds before they evaporate. Dry the steaks with paper towels. Place in the hot skillet and cook without moving for 2-3 minutes, until a nice crust forms on the bottom. Turn, reducing the heat slightly, and cook until small droplets of bloody liquid start to form on the top surface, signifying medium rare. Immediately remove the steaks to heated plates and reduce the heat under the skillet to medium low. Add the butter and, when it is melted, the shallots. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, scraping up any residue that was left in the pan by the steaks. Add the Calvados and a minute later the cream. Simmer briefly, correct salt, and pour over steaks.

* Lacking Calvados, an acceptable substitute is equal parts of Cognac and apple concentrate. Make apple concentrate by boiling apple juice or cider until reduced to half its volume. The result is slightly sweeter, but still delicious. Lacking Cognac, make another recipe.

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