Pepper Steak, updated with a sweet and spicy gravy and served over mashed potatoes, becomes the ultimate comfort food when it’s made in the Midwest. Hearty and filling, your family will love this meal any day of the week!
This Pepper Steak represents what I love about Midwestern cuisine: the ability to turn any food into comfort food. In the Midwest, Pepper Steak is served over mashed potatoes. With gravy. A sweet and spicy gravy.
In most of the country, Pepper Steak is found on Chinese restaurant menus. These recipes and any Home Cook Copycats are Asian-themed and served over rice.
What I love about Midwest Pepper Steak (just Pepper Steak to the natives) is that it takes a slightly exotic dish (or something that was exotic at some point in the past) and makes it friendly and familiar.
When I think of Minnesota farmers coming in from the fields as the sun is setting, I imagine them sitting down to a hearty platter of flank steak and mashed potatoes with vegetables and gravy all mixed together.
Midwest Pepper Steak
I made Pepper Steak a bunch of different times in all different ways. While my grandma uses a pressure cooker for hers (with meltingly tender results, I might add), I prefer a more modern stir-fry approach (seeing as how I lack a pressure cooker).
I start with a short marinade (saving half the marinade for the gravy later on), then stir-fry the steak in batches and set it aside. Next, I fry the bell peppers and onions in a clean skillet until just tender-crisp. Mash in some garlic and red pepper flakes, add back in the steak, and toss with the reserved sauce. It’s that easy!
And of course, pile it all on to mashed potatoes and devour.
Midwest Pepper Steak
- 1 ½ pounds flank steak trimmed
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
- Salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
- 2 bell peppers any color, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 onion halved and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- Mashed potatoes for serving
- Freeze steak for 15 to 20 minutes, just until the outside is chilled but the steak is not frozen solid. This will make it easier to slice the steak thinly.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, and sesame oil. Measure out ¼ cup of this sauce and pour it into a large zipper-top plastic bag or glass bowl for marinating the meat. Reserve the remaining sauce for the stir-fry.
- Remove the steak from the freezer and slice thinly against the grain. Add the steak to the large plastic bag or bowl with the marinade and marinate at room temperature at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.
- Remove the steak from the plastic bag, discarding the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season half the meat with ¼ tsp salt, add to the skillet in a single layer, and cook for 1 minute without stirring, until browned on one side.
- Stir the meat and continue to cook for 1 minute longer, until browned all over. Transfer to a clean bowl. Wipe out the skillet, add another tablespoon of oil, and repeat with the remaining steak.
- When the meat has been cooked and set aside, wipe out the skillet. Add the last tablespoon of oil and heat until shimmering. Add the peppers and onions and stir-fry until tender-crisp and still bright, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch into the reserved stir-fry sauce. Clear a space in the middle of the vegetables. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and mash together, then mix in to the vegetables.
- Return the steak and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Pour in the reserved stir-fry sauce and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce boils and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over mashed potatoes.