Citizens, according to French steak specialist Francis Marie, steak au poivre originated in the 19th century in the bistros of Normandy. There, noted figures took their female companions for late suppers where pepper’s supposed aphrodisiac properties assuredly proved most useful.
As noted on Cooksinfo:
Émile Lerch, in 1950 in La Revue Culinaire magazine, staked his claim to being the inventor of Steak au Poivre,stating that he first made it in 1930. The Restaurant Albert was owned by Albert Blazer, who would go on to head Maxim’s later.
He said he had received a shipment of frozen beef from America that looked great, but lacked flavour. At the time, the restaurant was full of Americans who had ruined their taste buds by indulging on too many cocktails before dinner.
He came up with the peppercorn idea to give the meat some taste, and to make sure the customers with their deadened taste buds could taste it period! He deliberately, he said, called it “Steak au poivre” to indicate its dual origin, American beef and French cooking.
A flurry of letters to the magazine began. Tassard Pierre wrote in saying that it was he who made it first, in 1919 or 1920. He said he made it for Brits who had had too much alcohol before dinner.
Other chefs wrote in claiming to have created it: M. Deveau of the Hotel Royal Monceau in Paris (in the 1920s), O. Becker of the Paillard restaurant in Paris in 1905, Gaston Comte at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo (1910.) Comte also said it was for drunk American customers.
“The origins of steak “au poivre”, a steak coated with crushed peppercorns or served with a peppercorn sauce, are controversial. Chefs who claim to have created this dish include E. Lerch in 1930, when he was chef at the Restaurant Albert on the Champs-Elysees; and M. Deveau in about 1920, at Maxim’s.
However, M.G. Comte certifies that steak “au poivre” was already established as a specialty of the Hotel de Paris at Monte Carlo in 1910, and O. Becker states that he prepared it in 1905 at Palliard’s!” – Larousse Gastronomique. New York: Clarkson Potter. 2001. Page 1142.
My version of the classic recipe is very closely based on one co-created by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. I uniquely add a green peppercorns mash to the butter in the finishing sauce to add an extra peppery zing to the final dish as well as a bit of demiglace and Calvados, the Apple brandy of Normandy in memory of the spicy origins of this classic recipe! 🙂
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
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