Bringing back a classic. Want to impress your significant other with an impossibly fancy-sounding dish that really isn’t all that complicated? Then Steak Au Poivre (pronounced oh-pwav) is your guy, …er recipe. Even though we made it for our Valentine’s dinner, you can make it for any special occasion, or just because.
Steak au poivre sounds as if it would be difficult, but it is actually quite simple to prepare, and makes an easy and elegant (perhaps somewhat pricy) meal. Essentially it is a sautéed steak, with a quick pan sauce. This version made with black peppercorns tastes bright but not overpoweringly peppery or boozy.
Although the classic cut of beef for this dish is filet mignon, other cuts of boneless steak can be prepared au poivre, including boneless ribeye, strip steak (our choice), or sirloin. Just remember, a bad or tough steak will still be tough, so select a decent piece of beef with good marbling. It’s best if you season the raw steaks with salt and pepper then place them on a rack without covering in the fridge for 8 up to 24 hours. Take them out of refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
Because pepper is such an important part of the dish (at least one teaspoon of whole peppercorns per steak), it’s applaudable to splurge on high quality peppercorns. Crush the peppercorns with a light hand. They should be “just-cracked” into big pieces, so it’s best to use a mallet, or mortar and pestle, but not a pepper grinder. The au poivre sauce is made from pan drippings, liquor, and cream.
Steak Au Poivre
- 2 1½”-thick New York strip steaks (about 1½ lb. total)
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4 Garlic cloves, 2 smashed, 2 thinly sliced
- 3 Sprigs thyme
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Large shallot, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup cognac, dry sherry, or brandy
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Flaky sea salt
- Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Season all over with kosher salt and a generous amount of ground pepper. Let sit 15–30 minutes.
- Coarsely crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or place in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a small saucepan (they should be a lot coarser than ground pepper).
- Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook steaks, undisturbed, until a deep golden brown crust forms underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook on second side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. If the steaks have a fat cap, stand them on their sides with tongs and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add smashed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan. Cook, basting steak continuously, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each steak registers 120°, about 2 minutes. Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine shallot, sliced garlic, crushed peppercorns, and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet and cook, stirring often, until shallot and garlic are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add cognac to pan. Set over medium heat and cook until cognac is mostly evaporated and spoon leaves streaks in skillet while stirring, 1–2 minutes. Add cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until sauce coats spoon, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt.
- Slice steaks against the grain and transfer to a platter. Pour any juices from cutting board back into skillet and stir into sauce. Spoon sauce generously over steak; sprinkle with sea salt.
Adapted from recipe in “Cook This Book” by Molly Baz