Steak au poivre (pronounced "oh-PWAHV") is a classic French steak recipe that features a perfectly cooked steak crusted with cracked peppercorns and served with a rich, creamy sauce flavored with cognac or brandy.
Cognac, to be sure, is the traditional ingredient, since steak au poivre is a French recipe and cognac is a type of brandy made in France. So to be truly authentic, use cognac. Any good quality brandy will also work. But remember: Good quality.
- Let the steaks sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before you start to cook. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
- Crack the peppercorns in a mortal and pestle or by crushing them in a metal skillet with the bottom of another heavy pot or pan. Transfer the crushed peppercorns to a plate or sheet pan.
- Season the steaks with Kosher salt and then press the steaks into the cracked peppercorns. Make sure to coat both sides of the steaks.
- Heat a wide oven-safe pan over medium-high heat, then add the oil and 2 Tbsp of the butter. Swirl it around to combine, then add the steaks. Brown them for about two minutes on each side, then transfer the pan to the oven for another 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the steaks to a plate, tent them with foil and let them rest for 5 to 6 minutes while you make the sauce.
- Pour out all but about 1 Tbsp of the fat in the pan, then put the pan back on the stove but don't turn on the heat yet.
- Add the cognac or brandy and scrape the flavorful bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the cream and stir to combine. NOW turn the heat back on to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until it has reduced by about half. Stir in the remaining butter, season to taste with Kosher salt and serve the sauce over the steaks right away.
You could also use tenderloin steaks for this recipe (they should be about 1½ inches thick and have plenty of marbling), or even flank steak, which is very flavorful but cooks a little faster since it isn't as thick. Be sure to slice it against the grain. (Also see: What is the Best Steak?)