How to Make Steak au Poivre
This French classic might be the ultimate dinner for two.
With its crushed-peppercorn crust and buttery, shallot-specked sauce, steak au poivre is a highlight of any cook's repertoire. It's said to have originated in Normandy in the 19th century which perhaps explains the cream in the sauce (the French region is renowned for its rich dairy). Our recipe for this classic dish captures dynamic flavor in two quick steps: searing the meat over high heat, and simmering down chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, and cognac to pour on top. Serve with a salad and savor it to the final cut. Here, a rundown of how to cook steak au poivre for two.
About the Steak
Nicely marbled New York strip steak is the traditional choice for this dish, but you can swap in filet mignon, or feed a crowd with a large boneless rib eye—just make sure the meat is about 11/2 inches thick.
Coat the Steak
Let a 11/2-inch-thick boneless New York strip steak (one pound) rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This step helps it to cook evenly. Place one tablespoon whole black peppercorns in a resealable plastic bag; lightly crush with a rolling pin. Lightly brush steak with vegetable oil; season generously with kosher salt. Coat both sides with peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Let stand 15 minutes.
Sear and Rest
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high until very hot, which should take about three to four minutes. Swirl in one tablespoon oil. Add steak and cook, flipping once, until a thermometer reads 130° (for medium-rare), ten to twelve minutes total. Sear fat cap to finish, one to two minutes more. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing so the juices redistribute. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool slightly.
Make the Pepper Sauce
Wipe the skillet clean; return to medium heat. Add two tablespoons unsalted butter and one finely chopped shallot. Cook, stirring, until shallot softens, one to two minutes. Carefully add 1/3 cup cognac; cook, scraping browned bits from pan, until almost evaporated, two to three minutes. Add one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and any accumulated steak juices from plate; reduce to 1/2 cup, about five minutes. Stir in two tablespoons heavy cream; cook, stirring, until thickened, about one minute more. Drizzle over the steak and serve with watercress and arugula.