Steak au poivre, or “pepper steak,” once translated from its original French name, is really just that. Steak that is seared with coarsely ground and fragrant peppercorns and then finished with a creamy pan sauce. Just about any preferred boneless steak cut is usable, so I opt for the classic cut of filet mignon, aka beef tenderloin medallions. I like to do a combination of 2 different peppercorns for this dish: toasted and cracked black peppercorns to crust the beef, and then a brined green peppercorn for the sauce. The green peppercorns are soaked in a brine of vinegar and salt, so they bring a welcomed pop of tangy pepperiness to the dish as opposed to the sometimes more astringent nature of black peppercorns. It should also go without saying that a cast iron pan is the ideal equipment for pan-searing here; make sure it is preheated for at least 5 minutes before you plan on cooking to ensure the maximum searing potential. Serve this alongside crispy pommes frites or a rich potato puree to complete the bistro experience!
Steak au Poivre 7 Steps
Allow the steaks to air dry on a wire rack in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crack all of the toasted peppercorns. Be careful not to grind too finely, they should still be quite coarse, transfer to a small plate for crusting.
Drizzle the 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over the steaks and massage to rub in evenly. Generously season the exterior of all steaks with kosher salt then press both sides of each steak into the cracked peppercorns pressing down gently to ensure the peppercorns adhere.
Put enough vegetable oil in the bottom of a preheated cast iron pan to just coat, then begin searing the seasoned steaks over high heat, approximately 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove the seared steaks from the pan onto a wire rack to rest.
While the steaks are resting, pour the excess fat from the searing pan, turn the heat down to medium, then add in the butter and diced shallots and cook until the shallots soften, approximately 1 minute.
Deglaze with the brandy, turn the heat to high and carefully tilt the pan so that the alcohol can catch the flame to burn off (if you are not comfortable doing this, then skip the step, just be sure to cook the alcohol for at least 30 seconds on high before adding any other ingredients). Be sure to scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the green peppercorns, Dijon mustard, chicken stock and cream, bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes or until the sauce has reached a velvety creamy texture. Adjust seasoning and serve over or on the side of the steaks.