Steak Au Poivre
Steak au poivre or pepper steak is a French dish that consists of a steak, traditionally a filet mignon, coated with loosely cracked peppercorns and then cooked. The peppercorns form a crust on the steak when cooked and provide a pungent but complementary counterpoint to the rich flavor of the high-quality beef.
The peppercorn crust itself is made by placing the steak in a bed of cracked black (or mixed) peppercorns. Typically, the steak is seared in a hot skillet with a small amount of butter and oil. The steak is seared at a high temperature to cook the outside quickly and form the crust while leaving the interior rare to medium-rare. The steak is then left to rest for several minutes and then served.
Steak au poivre is often served with pan peppercorn sauce consisting of reduced cognac, heavy cream, and the fond from the bottom of the pan, often including other ingredients such as butter, shallots, and/or Dijon mustard. Common side dishes to steak au poivre are various forms of mashed potatoes and pommes frites (small fried shoestring potatoes).
- 4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt.
- Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.
- Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.
- Use extreme caution when igniting alcohol. Remove the pan from the heat source before adding the alcohol. Pour the alcohol into the pan and carefully ignite with a match or click lighter. Return the pan to the heat and gently swirl to reduce the flames.