Steak au Poivre
Steak au Poivre is a classic French dish of pepper-crusted steak with a cognac and cream pan sauce. A crust of coarse, freshly ground pepper provides a zingy counterpoint to the beef, with the cream sauce adding sweetness and depth. It is undoubtedly delicious, and pretty easy to put together.
While steak au poivre is often made with filet mignon, I prefer a more marbled piece of beef like a ribeye or strip steak, as the fat improves the taste of both the meat and the sauce.
When crusting the steak, use a very coarsely ground pepper. Anything that comes out of a pepper mill will be too fine. You want to grind the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or just crush them under the side of a knife blade to achieve the ideal coarseness.
The finished sauce in this recipe is of a more rustic variety, including pieces of shallot as well as peppercorns from the pan. Feel free to strain the sauce if you are looking for a slightly more elegant appearance. Personally, I like the rustic look.
Steak au Poivre
2 ribeyes, thick cut and around 16 oz. each
4 tbsp black peppercorns
1 large shallot, finely diced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dijon mustard
½ cup cognac or brandy
¾ cup cream
Salt, to taste
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and place them on the counter to warm while you complete all your other prep (or even a bit before). This helps them to cook evenly.
Pound your peppercorns under the side of a knife blade or in a mortar to a very coarse grind. Salt the ribeye liberally and then coat both sides in a crust of pepper.
Heat 1 tsp high-temperature oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When nice and hot, add the steaks.
Cook to your desired doneness, flipping halfway through. To determine doneness, you can use a meat thermometer or the thumb trick. Once cooked, remove the steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add your minced shallots and cook until slightly translucent and very fragrant.
Add the cognac, and cook for a few minutes to reduce by around half.
Add the mustard, cream, and any steak juices from your resting dish. Reduce the sauce to you desired thickness, stirring often. Taste and add additional salt, if desired.
Slice the steaks, serving around half a steak on each plate with a nice strip of sauce down the center, and another sprinkle of salt to finish the meat.