Review of Hello Fresh's Crushed Peppercorn Steak with Creamed Kale and Potato Wedges

Dave Beaulieu October 11th, 2018

Review Summary

It seems that just about every meal kit provider out there, has a version of Steak with Peppercorn sauce. And honestly, peppercorn steak is a pretty standard dish, and it's actually pretty hard to make your version stand out from the pack.  

The other day, I tried HelloFresh’s version.

Their version (like every other one I’ve tried) uses a cut of sirloin as the steak in peppercorn steak. To pair with that sirloin, are some roasted potatoes wedges and creamed kale - a spin on traditional creamed spinach. The way HelloFresh as you make the peppercorn sauce is really what stands out.

When I think of peppercorn steak, I think of large pieces of barely crushed peppercorns coating the steak and swimming in the creamy sauce. So much so that with every bite, you feel the barely softened peppercorns crushing between your teeth, releasing spicy hits of flavor and giving the steak a unique texture.

Well, thanks to a little packet of peppercorns, and some clear directions, that’s what you get with HelloFresh’s version.

The steaks sent were about 8 ounce sirloins. One of which was perfect. Sadly, the other one has a good bit of grizzle/connective tissue on about a quarter of it; making that part of the steak largely inedible. 

The roasted potatoes that came along with the steak turned out every nice, which a crispy outsides and creamy interior. The creamed kale, which was very lightly creamed worked well to help cool down the spice of peppercorn sauce.

With the exception of the grizzled steak (which is a pretty big deal), the ingredients that came where all good quality.

The directions were pretty clear – although the card didn’t provide an oven temperature for roasting the potatoes. I think a bit more on how to help make sure the steak is cooked to your preferred doneness would have been nice. I hate over cooked steak.

Primarily because the potatoes take about 40 minutes to roast, this isn’t the fastest dish to make. It took me about 55 minutes, but not all that time is active cooking time.

I would have been completely satisfied with this recipe were it not for the one, less than perfect steak. The sauce was quite nice and everything went really nicely together.

I'd give this one a thumbs up from HelloFresh - but really you do need to watch the quality of the proteins, and if I find poor quality steaks more than one in a blue moon, I'd likely move on.

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Ingredients

The box from HelloFresh arrived on my door step, and upon opening it, I saw that the ingredients for both recipes I ordered were nicely separated into their own bags for easy storage. The steaks were packaged separately between the ice packs, keeping them super cold.

All of the vegetables looked good and fresh, and there was plenty of potato and kale for two people.

The two steaks where packaged together, both of which looked to be about 8 ounce portions. One of them was considerably longer/thinner than other, which makes cooking them to the same doneness a bit tricky (thinner steaks cook faster). After cooking, I also found one of the steak had a good amount of grizzle on it. Which I can forgive once, but if that repeated, it would probably turn me off of steak from HelloFresh.

Included with this recipe is:

  • 2 sirloin steaks
  • ~6 small potatoes
  • Small package of kale
  • Shallot
  • Sour cream
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Beef stock concentrate

Making the dish

It took me just under an hour to make this dish, so for many people it’s not going to be one that you bang out after getting home from work.

The biggest reason it takes that long is the potatoes. While I love oven roasted potatoes, they take anywhere from 35 – 45 minutes in the oven. Add 5 – 10 minutes of prep, and you’re looking at about an hour. The good news, is most of that time they are just sitting in the oven and you can do something else. But it still takes time.

While this is actually not a super complicated dish, I know that many people are a bit intimidated about cooking steaks. The recipe card accurately describes how to cook the steaks, but I thought a bit more detail on how to get the steaks to your desired temp (rare to well done) would probably be appreciated by most people.

The HelloFresh recipe card breaks the recipe down into 5 steps:

  • Prep the ingredients: There isn’t a ton of prep work for this recipe. You dice the shallot (to be used in the sauce). De-stem, and chop the kale. Lightly crush the whole peppercorns. And finally, cut the potatoes into wedges
  • Cook the Potatoes: Since they take the longest, you start cooking the potatoes first. After cutting them, you drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and then slide them into the oven. Sadly, the recipe card doesn’t say what temp the oven should be at. I suggest 425 – 450. And you’ll cook them for about 40 minutes, tossing/turning them over half way through.
  • Cook the Kale: In a large pot, you add the kale, with a splash of water (although I don’t think the water is needed), salt & pepper, and cook until it’s wilted down (5 – 8 minutes). Then set aside.
  • Cook the Steaks: Remove the steaks from the package, pat them dry and season them all over with salt and pepper. Then heat a pan (heavier the better) on the stove top. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pan, and then add the steaks. The directions say to cook the steaks for 4 – 8 minutes per side. A bit more coaching here would be nice. You need the pan to be very hot (put your oven fan on) to get a good sear on the steak. After a minute or so, you can turn the heat down so you don’t burn the pan. Thicker steaks will need a bit longer to get to your desired temp than thinner steaks. But for medium rare, I cooked mine about half the suggested time. You also need to monitor the temp of the pan, and turn the heat up/down (or move the pan off the heat) to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning.
  • Make the Sauce: Once the steaks are cooked, remove them to a holding plate. Add another drizzle of olive oil and add the shallots & peppercorns; cook until the shallot softens. Then add the beef stock & some water. That sauce then reduces on the heat by half. To finish the sauce you add sour cream, which gives the sauce a creamy, velvety texture.
  • Finish the Kale: I put the heat back on the kale for a minute or two and then added the sour cream; again killing the heat. The kale doesn’t get very creamy, but the sour cream does add a bit; and it gives the kale bit of a tang.

The recipe card has you slicing the steak before serving. If you can tell which way the grain runs, and then slice against that gain, and you’ll get a more tender steak. But sirloin is already a pretty tender cut, with just a bit of firmness. I’d be happy to serve them whole.

Taste

The sauce was perhaps the best thing about this dish. I personally love it when peppercorn sauce has large chunks/whole peppercorns still floating in it. With each bite you crush a bit more, and get a punch of flavor. And it was nice that there was more than enough sauce for the two servings.

The (lightly) creamed kale is reminiscent of creamed spinach – but without the heaviness of the cream. My favorite bites had a bit of steak, smothered in sauce, combined with a bit of the kale, which has a cooling effect to offset the pepper; and nice texture contrast. And of course, eating the kale provided a bald face lie to my subconscious, that eating steak was healthy.

My biggest problem was with one of the steaks; a large part of which was inedible due to a bunch of grizzle. That was a bummer as the steak was not huge to begin with.

The potato wedges roasted up very nicely, and had crispy edges and creamy centers. They seem almost fool proof, you just need to make sure you put enough salt and pepper on them; and have the oven hot enough to brown them.

Hello Fresh's Crushed Peppercorn Steak with Creamed Kale and Potato Wedges

Crushed Peppercorn Steak with Creamed Kale and Potato Wedges

Overall

It was a pretty big misstep to have a grizzly steak; and if both steaks had been bad, despite all the good stuff, this would have been a crap recipe.

However, I really liked the peppercorn sauce, and I think most people will find it pretty easy to make. You just really need to pay attention to how much you cook the steak - and get it to your preferred doneness. The kale was nice side dish, as were the potatoes.

Absent the bad steak, this probably would have been the best steak recipe I’ve gotten from a meal kit provider. So, I’ll give the one bad steak a pass this time….but if I get another, I’m probably out.

There are a couple gaps on the recipe card as well - with the oven temp; and with detailed steak temp directions. So you’ll either have to 1) know what your doing, 2) Guess, or 3) do a bit of investigating on your own. Nothing that’s too hard to figure out, but I’m sure some cooking novices would get a bit anxious.

So...overall, I'd suggest giving it a try, and I think you'll love it. if you do, please please, make sure to let me know how it goes.

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