Steak au Poivre

  • Preparation time: 12 minutes
  • Cooking time: 14 minutes to 20 minutes
  • Total time: 26-32 depending on your preference 35 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 2 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 x 200g fillet steaks, well trimmed
  • Salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 2 good slugs cognac
  • 2 tbsp meat juices or well-reduced beef stock


  1. Crush the peppercorns coarsely in a pestle and mortar or grind briefly in a coffee mill. Tip the pepper into a sieve suspended over a bowl and shake well until all remnants of pepper powder have been expelled.
  2. Press the crushed peppercorns into one side of the steaks using your fingers, then push them well into the meat using the heel of your hand to make them stick. Now season with salt; doing so earlier will cause the peppercorns to fall off.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a solid-based frying pan until hot. Put in the steaks - pepper-encrusted side first - and then slightly reduce the heat. Allow the steaks to cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes, or until a good crust has formed underneath. Add 50g of the butter and allow it to cook for a further 2-3 minutes until nut-brown. Gently turn the steaks over, turn down the heat a little and continue cooking to suit your taste, while basting with melted butter from time to time. Do not turn the steaks over more than once - the aim is to get a crust on each side.
  4. Remove the steaks to a warmed serving platter; do not allow them to cool down. Add the cognac to the pan while it is still relatively lively with sizzle, swirl it around and then set light to it. Watch the flames dissipate as the alcohol burns off. Dilute the mixture with the meat juices or reduced stock and whisk everything together while scraping up any gooey bits that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Incorporate the remaining 25g of butter and continue to whisk until a cohesive, rich and savoury sauce is achieved. Pour over the steaks and serve at once, together with fine, crisp chips and a simply dressed salad of tender cos lettuce leaves.