Steak au Poivre (Pepper Steak)
By Ian Kerr
I know its not good to eat too much red meat, but sometimes I can’t help it! Here is my go-to recipe for a quick delicious meal, Steak au Poivre or “Pepper Steak”. This delicious recipe is heavy on pepper, and flavor, with the pepper element bringing a really delicious heat to the dish. The sauce is made with cream put into the pan after the steak is cooked to pick up all that wonderful flavor and juice in the pan. There are many renditions on this classic dish, but I have selected this from Bon Appetit
Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Season all over with kosher salt and a generous amount of ground pepper. Let sit 15–30 minutes.
Coarsely crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or place in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a small saucepan (they should be a lot coarser than ground pepper).
Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook steaks, undisturbed, until a deep golden brown crust forms underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook on second side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. If the steaks have a fat cap, stand them on their sides with tongs and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add smashed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan. Cook, basting steak continuously, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each steak registers 120°, about 2 minutes. Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine shallot, sliced garlic, crushed peppercorns, and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet and cook, stirring often, until shallot and garlic are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add cognac to pan. Set over medium heat and cook until cognac is mostly evaporated and spoon leaves streaks in skillet while stirring, 1–2 minutes. Add cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until sauce coats spoon, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt.
Slice steaks against the grain and transfer to a platter. Pour any juices from cutting board back into skillet and stir into sauce. Spoon sauce generously over steak; sprinkle with sea salt.
This version looks so good, but honestly I do it in a really simple way: Cook the cut of steak that’s been seasoned with salt and liberally with pepper, in butter. Take the steak out and slice it into pieces and set aside. Put cream into pan and reduce (half and half or whole milk can work too, really). Try to get the sauce not to thick and not too thin. I don’t use cognac, I don’t want to go through all that trouble especially because I don’t have the skill level to cook with alcohol. You can add the garlic and onion but I don’t bother, I prefer to keep it simple. Try not to get the sauce to curdle, but if it does its okay as it will still taste good. I find this recipe is pretty hard to screw up. I also find its wonderfully delicious and hearty for this fall weather. I encourage you to try it!