You can tip the pan and ignite the Cognac, or ignite the sauce with a match for an invigorating spectacle. But all these acts of derring-do are unnecessary: just bring the sauce to a boil for a minute to burn off the alcohol, whisk, whisk, whisk, and then add the cream, whisking all the while. Serve with roasted potatoes.
Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season both sides lightly with salt. Coat both sides with the peppercorns, pressing so they adhere. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the steaks and cook to your desired doneness (2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare). Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and tent them with foil. Pour off and discard any fat left in the pan, but not the brown bits.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the skillet. When melted, add the shallot and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully add the Cognac. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook, whisking, until the Cognac reduces to a glaze, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt.
Transfer the steaks to dinner plates and top with the sauce.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Scott Phillips