Steak au Poivre

  • Steak au poivre or “pepper steak” is one of those classic recipes that will never die. Like ever. In fact, this recipe is so old school that there are as many recipes as there are cooks, but definitely still a recipe that every cook should know by heart. It's essentially a sautéed peppered steak with a quick and simple pan sauce of stock, brandy, cream, and mustard. The right combination of bright, peppery, boozy, rich flavor for an already near perfect piece of meat! Just make sure when you flambé the brandy that your pan is really hot and your eyebrows are well out of the way.
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Serves 6


  • 6 steaks, beef tenderloin filets or strip steaks
  • ¼ cup black peppercorns, cracked
  • clarified butter, or your choice of fat for high-heat cooking
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup beef stock
  • ⅔ cup Cognac or brandy
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons jarred green peppercorns, optional


  • Note: Coarsely crush the peppercorns with the bottom of a sauté pan, a mortar and pestle, or by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and smashing them with a meat mallet.
  • To prepare the steaks, trim off the excess fat and dry with paper towels. Season the steaks with salt and firmly press the crushed peppercorns into both sides. Seasoning can be done up to 3 hours ahead. If refrigerated, bring the steaks to room temperature by resting on the counter 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Over high heat, warm a thin layer of clarified butter in 2 heavy-bottomed frying pans. When the butter is very hot, lay 3 steaks in each pan. Sauté for 3-5 minutes on each side, browning the steaks well and cooking them to your liking.
  • Note: Test for doneness by pressing on the meat. The meat is rare when barely springy to the touch and offers just a bit of resistance. A meat thermometer will register at 125℉. The meat is medium rare when you begin to see a few tiny beads of red juice appear on the surface of the meat. A meat thermometer will register at 135℉. The meat is medium when firm to the touch and registers at 145℉ and medium well at 150℉. Transfer to hot plates and keep warm.
  • Using one skillet, pour off the excess fat and return the pan to high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of fresh butter in the pan and add the shallots. Stir for one minute, then pour in the stock. Boil the liquid rapidly over high heat while scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid until almost syrupy.
  • Pull pan off the heat and carefully add the brandy (it may flame up). Let the mixture boil rapidly for 1 minute to evaporate the alcohol. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 1-2 minutes more until thick. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon.
  • Add the mustard and taste. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of fresh butter, lemon, and honey. Whisk in the green peppercorns and any accumulated juices from the resting meat.
  • Plate the steaks. Serve with the brandy cream sauce spooned over top.