Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Steak Au Poivre

It's a conundrum. A mystery. An enigma. This awesomely delicious and totally easy dish has a French name and French roots. Then again, so does Texas. Nonetheless, Steak au poivre is one of the most delicious ways to eat steak, and the methodology is simple.

Steak au poivre (pronounced [OH-PWAHHV]) is translated as Pepper Steak. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It is. The name comes from the use of cracked peppercorns directly on the underside of the steak as it cooks. Typically, the dish is accompanied by a pan sauce, which is made with the drippings, or fond, from cooking the steak.

Yes, I know that you probably think that steaks should only be cooked over a grill, but here's a big secret. Many steak restaurants do their steaks in pan, just like this.

I played a hunch when cooking this dish and added little bit of dried thyme to the pan sauce. It added a wonderfully bright flavor that complimented the cognac well.


  • 2 strip steaks about 1-inch thick
  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • salt & pepper (for seasoning the steak)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or beef broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup cognac
  • 1 TBSP cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of thyme

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season your steaks with salt and cracked pepper. Be generous with the pepper. Add the butter to the skillet and wait for it to melt. Now sear the steaks on each side about 3-4 minutes, depending on how done you like your steak. Remove the steaks from the pan and tent with foil while you make the sauce.

Add the broth to the pan right away and begin stirring with a whisk to scrape off the fond stuck to the pan. Continue cooking until it reduces slightly. Now add the cognac and ignite with a lighter or match. Be careful not to burn yourself. You just want to burn off the alcohol fumes. After the flames extinguish, continue whisking and stirring until the sauce reduces by half. Add the cracked pepper, thyme, and half and half. Give it a quick whisk then sit back and let it reduce to a nice medium-thick sauce while stirring occasionally.

Taste before serving and adjust the flavor with salt. Serve over the steak.


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