Steak au Poivre is classic French comfort food. I usually make it with pommes frites (“fries” to us Anglophones) and Brussels sprouts or green beans.
I first had this dish when I lived in North Arlington, NJ and would often take the bus into Manhattan. My favorite restaurant was a bistro called Tout Va Bien in Hell’s Kitchen. I would treat myself once or twice a month to dinner there and a walk around the neighborhood.
I don’t recall ever looking up a recipe once I moved to central New Jersey and no longer went to the city frequently. I simply enjoyed a good steak-frites once in a while, and I worked at it on a trial-and-error basis until I arrived at the flavor I recalled from Tout Va Bien.
Incidentally, I have used different cuts of steak for this recipe–most often New York strip steak, but also filet mignon, flank steak, and even flatiron steak.
I like the pepper in the sauce to be very coarsely ground, so instead of using a peppermill, I put the peppercorns in a pan and use the bottom of a pot to crack them. The sauce has a little pop to it, so I recommend a bold red wine for those who imbibe. My go-to is Mouton Cadet, which is modest and fun.
Steak au Poivre
(steak with peppercorn cream sauce)
two steaks (cuts of your choice)
three-quarters cup low-sodium beef stock
one-quarter cup red wine
sprigs of rosemary and time
one clove of garlic, crushed
roughly 20 peppercorns, coursely crushed
one-half stick of butter
one-quarter cup heavy cream
In a heavy iron skillet, melt some butter, and cook your steaks over medium heat to desired doneness. Place them on a plate in a warm oven.
Pour the stock and wine into the hot pan, along with the herbs, peppercorns, and garlic. After deglazing the pan, remove the herbs and garlic, and reduce the liquid over medium heat.
Thicken the sauce by adding butter gradually and stirring it in. Once you add fat, you have to stir constantly or your sauce will separate. The heavy cream is optional, but I usually add it at the end to give the sauce a creamier flavor and lighter color.
When the sauce approaches the consistency you prefer, turn the heat off and keep stirring. The pan will eventually cool enough for you to plate your steaks and pour the sauce over them. Garnish with parsley and add any side vegetables.