Steak au Poivre

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June 28, 2010 by Flora Dawn

Steak au Poivre is a French dish that consists of a steak, typically filet mignon, coated in coarsely crushed peppercorns. Add some cream and Cognac for a quick pan sauce and you have the making of a delicious meal.

Although I love to just a grill a steak in the backyard, Steak au Poivre is probably my husband’s favorite meal, so it’s my go-to special occasion dish. Our anniversary, Father’s Day, his birthday, you name it, he requests this.

Although the heat of the peppercorns is greatly reduced in this cooking method, it definitely does taste like pepper, so probably not the best choice for children or those with an aversion to black pepper. And I have found that different brands of peppercorns do vary in their intensity and flavor.

I love that this dish has so much flavor with so few ingredients and so little effort. Pepper and steak are a winning combination and the cream/brandy reduction really adds the finishing touch. Let’s face it, the French know how to cook and this dish is like so many French dishes I have made; simple, elegant and delicious.

So, next time you need an impressive, yet relatively simple steak dish, give Steak au Poivre a try. It goes great with almost any potato dish, especially twice baked potatoes.

I have adapted an Alton Brown recipe and find that it works really well and isn’t too complicated. Although the original recipe calls for Cognac, I have never wanted to spend the money, so I just buy a good brandy. I have also used boneless ribeye in place of the filet mignon. I think any good quality steak around 1 -1 /2 inch thickness could be used though.

Steak coated in coarsley crushed peppercorns.

Steak au Poivre, ready to cut into to.

Steak au Poivre

  • 4 tenderloin steaks, 6-8 oz each (no more than 1 1/2 inches thick)
  • 2 TB whole peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • 1  TB butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 Cognac or Brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Remove the steak from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before beginning dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. Coarsely crush peppercorns (if you have a mortal and pestle this would be perfect, I don’t. I place the peppercorns in a plastic bag and hit them with my meat tenderizer or rolling pin).
  4. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt. Spread crushed peppercorns on plate and press the steaks onto the plate. Coat both sides with the crushed peppercorns.
  5. In a heavy skillet, I use cast iron, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. As soon as the oil and butter being to brown place steak in pan.
  6. For medium-rare steaks, cook steaks about 4 minutes per side; if you prefer your steaks medium or medium-well I find it best to brown steaks on both sides in the pan and then place in preheated oven to finish cooking. It takes about 5-7 minutes for medium and 7-10 for medium-well in my experience.
  7. When steaks are finished cooking, remove to plate and tent with foil.
  8. Pour off any excess fat but don’t wipe pan clean.
  9. Off the heat, add the Cognac to the pan and ignite the alcohol with a long match or lighter; do this carefully as the flame can get rather large. (If this is too intimidating you can burn off the alcohol by heating pan, this will just take longer than lighting it).
  10. Return the pan to medium heat and add cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until a sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon is created.
  11. Add steaks back to pan and coat in sauce. Serve.
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