Fritzel’s Pepper Steak

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Morrison Wood, a popular Chicago Tribune columnist in the ’50s and ’60s shared various restaurant recipes for pepper steak, usually honing in on the chuck or round steak varieties of the dish braised with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes in red wine for several hours. But 59 years ago, he also shared the recipe for this more refined saute that he felt merited the extra expense of the better beef cut. It was served by restaurateur Mike Fritzel in a chafing dish at his namesake restaurant on the edge of the Chicago Loop. Made with butter-sauteed beef tenderloin, green bell peppers & black peppercorn, onions and mushrooms–this recipe leaves out the tomatoes. We’ve lightened it just a tad, using extra-light olive oil for the saute, adding just a little butter (optional) to finish the saute, but reserving most of it for the potatoes. I’ll also be running the recipe for Fritzel’s onion bread soon!

Makes 8 servings


  • 2 Tbsp extra light olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced button mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 lbs beef tenderloin, trimmed into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp roughly ground black peppercorn
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 tsp (plus 2 Tbsp for potatoes) butter
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and carved into tiny, pearl-onion sized balls, or, substitute 15 peeled tiny new potatoes


  1. In a skillet over medium heat warm 1 Tbsp the oil and saute the onion, mushrooms, bell pepper and garlic, covered. Cook until soft, but not over cooked. Remove vegetables to a separate dish. In skillet, add remaining Tbsp of olive oil and saute beef at high heat until browned and tender. Add vegetables back into skillet with beef. Stir in pepper, salt and sherry and saute one minute more. Stir in 2 tsp of butter to melt (optional). Remove all ingredients to a serving dish and let rest while you prepare potatoes
  2. Make noisette potatoes: Carve 4 large potatoes into 15 or more pearl onion sized balls, using a melon baller or paring knife. OR Peel 15 tiny new potatoes. While you are peeling/carving potatoes, heat water to boiling in a pot. Boil potato balls until just under-done. Strain. Dry out pot and set aside.  In a microwaveable bowl, microwave two Tbsp butter for 1 1/2 minutes to separate butter from milk solids (clarifying the butter.) Pour the clear-yellow, clarified butter into the pot, being careful not to add white milk solids to the pot. Heat clarified butter and add the just-under-done potato balls to the pot. Shake and stir the potatoes until brown and crispy on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and add over the top of the pepper steak in the serving dish. Enjoy!

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