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Steak au Poivre with Cognac Sauce

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Serves four.

  • To learn more, read:
    Steak au Poivre
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 95

If you want to dress things up, try an intense, exotic variety of black pepper like Malabar (see our test kitchen article for information on peppercorn varieties). Serve with a green salad and french fries or roasted potatoes.

  • 1 Tbs. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Two 1-1/2-inch-thick boneless New York strip steaks (about 2 lb. total), trimmed of excess fat and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 Tbs. canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely diced shallot (about 1 large)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp. Cognac or brandy
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon

Crack the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. It's fine if some are just broken in half and others are smaller; the important thing is to crack them all. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, crack the peppercorns on a cutting board, crushing them with a meat pounder or the bottom of a small heavy skillet or saucepan.

Sprinkle 1 tsp. of the thyme and 1 tsp. salt evenly on both sides of the steaks and then pat the peppercorns on both sides to create a thin crust. Let the steaks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

Turn on the stove's exhaust fan. Heat a heavy-duty 10- or 11-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil; when it's shimmering hot, arrange the steaks in the pan and cook until the bottom sides are nicely browned and release easily from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the steaks and cook the other sides until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the steaks until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 125°F for rare, 130°F for medium rare, and 135°F for medium, 4 to 7 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a plate and tent with foil.

Pour off any fat left in the pan, but not the browned bits. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat to avoid any flare-ups and carefully add 1/3 cup of the Cognac. Return the pan to medium heat and cook until the Cognac reduces to a glazy consistency, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the cream, tarragon, the remaining 1 tsp. thyme, and any accumulated juices from the resting steaks. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 1 or 2 minutes more. Stir in the remaining 1 tsp. Cognac and season to taste with salt. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 520; Fat (g): fat g 33; Fat Calories (kcal): 300; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 16; Protein (g): protein g 38; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 4; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 380; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 155; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is a really great way to cook a steak. The results are perfect each time. We roast at a lower temperature (220 - 250) which seems to cook the inside more evenly. We LOVE the cognac sauce, the terragon really works!

Excellent! For over 15 years I've been making Steak Au Poivre using a very similar recipe from the Washington Post Food Section. It was one of my favorites and friends begged for it. I like the fresh herbs in this recipe vesus 2 tsps of Dijon mustard in the old recipe.

After coming back from France last year I've been craving a good steak au poivre - this recipe definitely fits the bill. Even my husband who isn't a foody and doesn't really like beef loves this recipe.

This recipe is excellent - I now crave it on a regular basis. The ingredients are simple and easily accessible. The only way to make a steak!

Delicious. I have made this repeatedly and have used different cuts of steak (rib eye, porterhouse). The sear on the meat is excellent and the sauce is divine. It comes together quickly and was perfect with just a simple steamed artichoke. It's a nice change from plain grilled steak.

Absolutely divine - the peppercorn crust worked a treat. It had just the right heat, with the eschallot and cream sauce a great foil to the pepperiness. Cooked with good Australian Barrington Beef sirloin steaks - even better than Wagyu, in my humble opinion. Will definitely cook again! RacheyT

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