A crust of crunchy peppercorns seals in the juices of the lean sirloin, keeping beautifully moist a cut which can sometimes be dry. The meatsfull favour comes through the hot pungency of the crust.
1 1/2 pound sirloin steak, cut in one thick slice, fat removed
2 level tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 cup beef stock
OVEN: Preheat to 240°C (475°F)
1. Coat both sides of the steak with the crushed peppercorns.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole over a very high heat and quickly sear the steak in it, for about 30 seconds on each side.
3. Put the casserole in the heated oven and roast the steak, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes for rare, 6-7 for medium, and 7-8 for well done. Lift the steak onto a heated serving dish and carve downwards and slanting into thin slices.
4. Stir the scallions into the meat juices and cook over a direct heat for 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook, uncovered, for 1 minute before adding the beef stock and simmering for 2 - 3 minutes while scraping the hardened juices into the sauce. Boil to reduce to about half a cupful and pour round the steak.
Lightly steamed sugar snap peas and carrots provide a crisp, sweet contrast to the tender, peppery steak. Serve warm whole wheat rolls (see p.366) with the dish for mopping up the juices. If you like, you can garnish the dish with a few bay or sage leaves.
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