Epoisses, the cheese, is produced in our local town…Epoisses! People who live around here will tell you unequivocally that there is no better cheese on earth than ‘their’ Epoisses. And we heartily agree. It has one weakness though: it doesn’t travel well.
Epoisses is a whole milk soft cheese that is washed with marc de Bourgogne as it ages to keep it from developing a skin. When it is ripe and ready, it is a real delice. But as it gets a little too old it becomes ammoniated and too strong.
But more and more, we’re seeing Epoisses in good condition far away from its native Burgundy. If you find it in your specialty market, (we have seen it in Whole Foods on the east coast) look for a moist, brandy-colored skin. It should fill its box, and not have shrunk away from the sides. Avoid dark orange, slimy skin. And sniff it to be sure it does not smell of ammonia. Other smells are ok, though … it can be pretty pungent.
The family-run restaurant in the center of Epoisses, ‘La Pomme d’Or’, devotes an entire tasting menu to this Burgundian delight. There they serve a sautéed hanger steak (what the French call ‘onglet’ or ‘la piece du boucher’–literally, the piece the butcher keeps for himself!) with this simple, delicious Epoisses sauce.
The sauce here is made in the saute pan. But if you are grilling your steak, just melt a spoonful of the cheese on top of the hot meat. It’s a great combo, and just too good!
You may have to do some explaining to get an American butcher to give you this exact piece of beef–there is only one in every cow. It’s located just below the tenderloin. If you do find it, it is best ‘butterflied’ against the grain. It’s not the most tender morsel, but is really flavorful. Failing this, choose your preferred cut.
6 8-ounce steaks of your choice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsps unsalted butter
2 tbsps vegetable oil
6 shallots, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 of an Epoisses cheese
2 tbsps heavy cream (optional)
Fine sea salt
Flank Steak with Epoisses Sauce
To cook six steaks you will need two very large heavy-bottomed sauté pans and two burners capable of bringing the pans to a very high heat in order to sear and cook the meat properly. Otherwise, you will have to sauté the steaks in two batches.
Season the steaks lightly with fresh pepper and heat your pans with the butter and oil until foaming. Cook the steaks to your liking and season them with sea salt. Put them on a warm platter covered very loosely with foil and let rest while you make the sauce.
Add the minced shallots to the pan and let them soften a bit. Deglaze the pan with the wine and let it bubble and reduce for 2-3 minutes, scraping up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the Epoisses cheese, letting it melt into the wine. Season with black pepper and taste for salt (Epoisses itself can be a bit salty, so be careful with the salt). Add any of the steak juices that have accumulated on the platter, and if you think the sauce is too tart add the heavy cream. You can also thin the sauce if you like with some water if it seems too thick.
Serve the steaks immediately with the sauce drizzled over, some snips of fresh chives and good home fries or roasted potatoes as accompaniment.
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