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October 18, 2007 / Tony

Steak au Poivre

Steak au poive was on the menu last night.  This is a classic dish that I had never made before.  I don’t know if I thought it too old-fashioned or if I am just to wedded to the idea grilling steaks.  However, after making it last night, I think it might become a favorite dish of mine.  It is exceptionally simple to make but it brings together such great flavors-the slight sweetness of shallots, the sophistication of brandy (or cognac), the richness of heavy cream, and, of course, the heat of coarsely ground pepper.  It’s just a dynamite combination that pairs wonderfully with a nice steak.  Here’s the recipe:

Steak au Poivre, from here 

 4 (3/4- to 1-inch-thick) boneless beef top-loin (strip) steaks (8 to 10 oz each)

1 T kosher salt

2 T freshly ground pepper

1 T vegetable oil

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup cognac or other brandy

3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks.

Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks as cooked to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven while making sauce.

Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (2 tablespoons) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated. Serve sauce with steaks.

Just a few notes about this recipe:  This recipe was actually first published by Gourmet magazine back in 1955.  Obviously, the dish predates that but I like the idea of a recipe having the type of appeal that can span generations.  I would have no qualms about serving this to my 93 year-old grandfather.  We drank an Oregon Pinot Noir (A to Z winery) with the steak and it was really good.  The wine was quite possibly the least fruity Pinot I have ever had and its resulting unobtrusiveness was a perfect match with the peppery sauce. 

I’ve got two picutres.  The first is the steaks searing in the pan and the second is the finished product.  Enjoy!




One Comment

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  1. Greg Esres / May 3 2008 10:45 pm

    I notice that you don’t have much pepper on the steaks; I’ve made this several times and each time the pepper taste is overwhelming. I’ve followed the recipes that say cover the entire side with pepper, but the few pictures I’ve seen don’t show near the coverage that I’ve been able to achieve. It makes me cough. So far, I don’t see the attraction behind this meal. I may give it one more shot, but be more skeptical about “covering the side” with pepper.

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