This French classic Steak au poivre translates simply as pepper steak, pairing succulent beef with punchy black peppercorns and a cognac creamy sauce.
Steak Au Poivre is sure to impress any guest at your dinner table, but it’s actually fairly simple to make and uses just a handful of ingredients.
You will be completely surprised how quickly you can whip up this meal and yet impress a crowd. It is certainly the perfect recipe to have in your back pocket for easy entertaining or a special date night. Steak Au Poivre is one dish you’ll be making for many years to come.
The choice of cut is essential to the success of your Steak Au Poivre or French pepper steak, as some beef simply isn’t suitable for pan frying. Traditionally, filet mignon is used for this dish, and while it is an excellent choice, it can also be expensive.
There are other more affordable alternatives to filet mignon to include the New York strip, and the beef tenderloins. The New York strip and the beef tenderloin are probably the two most common cut of meat in this dish as a substitution to filet mignon.
These cuts are not only affordable, but they also easily retained their shape and can be cooked in a variety of setting. Now, steak au poivre is traditionally made in a frying pan, but I have seen alterations such as grilled steak au poivre.
The process is the exact same as far as the seasoning of your meat, but instead of pan frying you will simply grill it to your liking than let it rest as you make your sauce.
This process will give you a nice grilling flavor especially if you do so over charcoal or hickory woods. But we are keeping it the traditional way for the purpose of this recipe.
Also, if you have a butcher nearby, it is certainly well worth paying them a visit. They will be able to advise you on the best cuts and will also ensure a better and fresher quality meat for your recipe.
What Is The Best Process To Cook A Steak?
You can easily cook your steak to perfection on a cast iron skillet over medium heat. The most important is to control your heat in order to cook your steak to perfection.
Meat cooked on a cast iron skillet tend to cook more evenly due to how heat is transferred in the cast iron.
Cooking over medium heat also allows the steak to cook thoroughly without pre-mature burns on the outside.
Why Is Filet Mignon Recommended?
Filet mignon is a French word meaning tender filet which comes from the smaller end of the tenderloins in middle steer’s back. It is the most tender meat due to its location.
And the reason why it is so expensive is because only a little over 1lbs of the 4-6lbs tenderloin found in an average cow weighing between 1400-2000 lbs. is actually the filet mignon.
Other delicious cuts within the surrounding area that would be a good alternative would be the porterhouse, a T-bone steak, and the top-sirloin.
Proper Temperature For Cooking Steaks
How you cook the steak is truly your preference. The rule of thumb is to keep the temperature of the meat at 125˚F for rare, 135˚F for medium, 145˚F for medium, 150˚F for medium well, and lastly 160˚F for a well-done steak.
We do highly suggest, if you want to truly enjoy and savor the flavor of the meat than not to overcook it.
We suggest cooking somewhere between the medium range, but no more than medium well if you like your steak cooked a little more.
Though a well-done steak, depending on the cut, can be fairly flavorful, you might lose on some of the juiciness and tenderness that you would otherwise enjoy.
The steak in Steak Au Poivre is crusted with freshly cracked peppercorns to allow for a deep flavor and a subtle, satisfying crunch.
Always use cracked pepper as opposed to ground for this recipe, as the flavor of ground simply doesn’t compare, and you don’t want to do a disservice to that beautiful steak.
Also, the crushed peppers do dress the steak beautifully when cooked. You will make your dish looks like it came from a 5-star restaurant if you follow these steps.
Obtaining the peppers in whole form than using a roller or mortar and pestle to crush the peppers is the easiest and most effective way to gain the texture needed to coat your steak before cooking.
Generously salting the steaks before you press them into the pepper will not only help season the meat but will also help the pepper stick to the surface. But the truly tender steak will suck in the salt and crushed peppers without restrictions.
Remember not to use up all the pepper at this stage, as the rest will season your creamy sauce and help emphasize that punchy pepper flavor. And besides, it also adds color to the creamy sauce.
The creamy sauce that accompanies Steak Au Poivre is made from a rich and tasty combination of butter, shallots, broth, cognac and creme fraiche or heavy cream.
After frying off the shallots until they are nice and soft, the cognac is added to flambé the shallots until the alcohol is burned off.
This is where you can impress your date if you are making this dish for a date night. Flambéing will certainly show your culinary expertise even you don’t have one. Just don’t get startled if it happens, the alcohol will burn off on its own fairly quickly.
Then, you add your stock and cream, simmering until it reaches a beautiful glaze-like consistency. Add in your remaining pepper and salt to taste and your pepper sauce is good to go.
Cognac, if you don’t already have it at home, is the one ingredient you may have to buy for this sauce, but it’s essential to the warmth and complexity of your pepper sauce.
This type of brandy is barrel-aged over a long time to produce some incredible flavors that help bring out the best in your steak.
But if flambéing is intimidating, you can prevent it. To prevent an unexpected flare-up if cooking your sauce over gas, you can always turn off the burner, add the cognac, then reignite the burner once the alcohol has evaporated. But why not impress your family or guess by showing off your flambéing skills.
High-quality broth is also going to make a big difference to the end taste of your dish, so opt for the best one you can afford.
Whether you use heavy cream or creme fraiche is really down to personal preference, with heavy cream naturally giving a more indulgent flavor that makes it great for special occasions.
How To Cook French Pepper Steak?
First you want to rinse and pat dry your steak. After rinsing, use a meat mallet to tenderize the steak. Now for the seasoning, sprinkle the salt on your cutting board. Crush your whole black peppercorn using a roller or a mortar and pestle.
Make sure to use whole black peppercorn rather than using ground peppers. Put some of the peppercorn aside for later.
Place your steak on top of the seasoning and be sure to coat it fully on both sides. Using the olive oil and butter, fry your steak to your liking using the temperature mentioned previously. Once completed, place your steak on a plate and let it rest.
Keep in mind the steak will continue to cook while resting.
For your sauce, add your onions and sauté until translucent, then add your cognac if using alcohol. Once the alcohol evaporates, add the broth and then the heavy cream.
Continue by adding the remaining crush black peppers and whole green peppercorn. Stir all ingredients well and let cook for 15 minutes while stirring. The sauce will thicken a bit. Once ready, spread over your steak and enjoy.
What Can I Pair With This Dish?
With such a succulent dish, it needs to be paired with an equally succulent side. And what could be more succulent than this Skin on Masked Potatoes, this Instant Pot Red Skin Mashed Potatoes.
If you want to be on the lighter side, why not pair your steak with these amazing salads, such as, this Simple Garden Salad, the Caesar Salad, or this Marinated Cucumber Tomato Salad that will make your palate sing while devouring this tender steak.
But if you are feeling even more bold than pair with some island flavors. I highly recommend pairing with this yellow yam or the air fryer yuca fries.
Cooking Tips & Frequently Asked Questions
Brandy is a good substitution since cognac is a type of brandy. Rum can also be substituted if you do not have cognac at handy. Lastly, if you have no interest in cooking with cognac, you can substitute it with any other liquor such as bourbon, wine, whiskey, etc…
Any ingredients from any dish can be substituted to accommodate. If using alcohol is not your thing, no sweat. Cooking wine with a teaspoon of sugar can be added as a substitution.
The main difference between the two dishes is that steak Diane includes mustard. Steak Diane is derivative of Steak au poivre with a slight alteration. It is the U.S version of the original French dish.
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Classic Steak Au Poivre Recipe
- 2 6 Oz Steaks 12 Ounce Combined. See notes section on various cuts
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- ¼ Cup Chopped Onions
- 4 Tbsp. Black Peppercorn To Season The Steak Plus 2 Extra Tsp. to add in the sauce
- 1 ¼ Cup Vegetable Stock
- ¾ Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Tbsp. Green Peppercorn
- First you want to rinse and pat dry your steak. After rinsing, use a meat mallet to tenderize the steak. Sprinkle the salt on your cutting board. Crush your whole black peppercorn using a roller or a mortar and pestle.Make sure to use whole black peppercorn rather than using ground peppers. Put some of the peppercorn aside for later.
- Place the steak on top of the seasoning and be sure to coat it fully on both sides. Using the olive oil and butter, cook the steak to your liking on medium – high heat using the temperature mentioned in the notes section. Adjust the heat as needed to cook the steak to perfection.Once completed, place the steak on a plate and let it rest. The steak will continue to cook while resting.
For The Sauce
- Add your onions and sauté until translucent, then add the cognac if using alcohol.
- Once the alcohol evaporates, add the broth and then the heavy cream. Continue by adding the remaining crush black peppers and whole green peppercorn. Stir all ingredients well and let cook for 15 minutes while stirring. The sauce will thicken a bit. Once ready, spread over your steak and enjoy.
- How you cook the steak is truly your preference. The rule of thumb is to keep the temperature of the meat at 125˚F for rare, 135˚F for medium, 145˚F for medium, 150˚F for medium well, and lastly 160˚F for a well-done steak.
- We do highly suggest, if you want to truly enjoy and savor the flavor of the meat than not to overcook it.
- We suggest cooking somewhere between the medium range, but no more than medium well if you like your steak cooked a little more.
- Though a well-done steak, depending on the cut, can be fairly flavorful, you might lose on some of the juiciness and tenderness that you would otherwise enjoy.
A great recipe for parties with friends
The sauce is gorgeous and the recipe looks delicious. Will this work with chicken as well?
Thank you Rachna. I would suggest using chicken breast, but do not cook it on high heat in order to keep it from drying out.
The creamy sauce goes well with the meat! All in all the recipe is amazing! We had this for date night and my husband loved it.
Thank you for sharing. Extremely happy to hear it.
the cream sauce makes this dish – love it!
That creamy peppercorn sauce is simply amazing. I love this detailed post.
Thank you, Seema