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Steak au Poivre

from 1001 Foods to Die For
from Andrews McNeel/Madison Press

Steak au Poivre

4 (6 oz) filet steaks
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup cognac
3/4 cup heavy cream

Serves 4

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
1001 Foods to Die For from Andrews McNeel/Madison Press


There are few pairings that feature pepper so prominently as steak au poivre. This is the time to splurge on more expensive green, white, and red peppercorns, which add complexity to the taste and make for a more dramatic presentation. The peppers are crushed using the flat side of a big, heavy knife or a mortar and pestle. They should not be ground too finely but remain chunky enough to feel in the mouth. A piece of steak-any cut suitable for broiling will serve, though filet is preferred-is rubbed with the pepper and then seared in a hot pan, both creating a crust on the meat and leaving flavor in the pan, which serves as the basis for the sauce.

What makes steak au poivre unique is the use of brandy or cognac instead of red wine in the sauce. This liquid is reduced with beef broth and aromatics and may even be thickened with cream and butter. The result is a smooth, richly flavored accompaniment to the sharp taste of the pepper and pungent beef. When the sauce has reached the desired consistency, the steaks get a quick bath with it before plating and then the remaining sauce is drizzled on top.

Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season both sides with salt. Crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and press the grains evenly onto both sides of steaks. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium to high heat until very hot. Now add the oil followed by the steaks. Fry the steaks for 3 minutes on each side then leave to rest while you make the sauce.

Brown the shallots in half the butter over medium heat. Increase the heat and add the cognac. Boil rapidly to reduce the liquid by half, stirring all the time. Now add the cream and continue to boil the sauce, stirring until reduced by half again. Turn heat to low and stir in the remaining butter, incorporating it fully, before pouring the sauce over the steaks to serve.

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