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Steak Au Poivre is beef tenderloin steaks coated in coarsely ground peppercorns and served with a luscious and creamy cognac sauce.

Steak Au Poivre

With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, it’s time to start planning a very special dinner for your loved one. Steak au Poivre is a fantastic option for the main course – especially for steak lovers!


Steak Au Poivre

What is Steak au Poivre?

Steak Au Poivre is pronounced ‘stek oh -pwav-ruh’ – and it means ‘steak with peppercorns’ in French.

According to “…Steak Au Poivre originated in the 19th century in the bistros of Normandy, where noted figures took their female companions for late suppers, and where pepper’s purported aphrodisiac properties may have proved most useful”.

Whether those properties hold true or not – this meal is decadent, delicious, and a truly special meal.


Steak Au Poivre

How do you prepare Steak au Poivre?

This recipe really calls for the highest quality tenderloin steaks you can find. We bought Certified Angus Beef tenderloin steaks at $22.00 per pound – and we don’t mention that to brag; only to emphasize that this is a special meal worth buying a quality cut of beef. (We promise – the end result will be the reward of a steak so tender, it almost melts in your mouth!)

We ground both black and pink whole peppercorns with a mortar and pestle (you can use all black peppercorns if you prefer) – intentionally keeping the texture of the crushed peppercorns very coarse.

Press the peppercorns into the beef, then sear each side of the steaks in butter in a super-hot, cast iron skillet – creating a nice crust on the outside while your steak cooks to your preferred level of doneness. (Follow the steps here to easily tell when your steak is cooked though.) Remove the steaks to a warmed plate to rest.

Steak Au Poivre

In the same skillet, make the sauce. Start by melting some more butter – then saute finely-chopped shallots for about a minute. (*Note: Although many Steak au Poivre recipes include them, the addition of shallots is not traditional for this dish. We thought the shallots added a nice complexity of flavors in the finished sauce, so we include them.)

One by one, add cognac, beef stock and cream to the skillet to create a luscious, thick and flavorful cream sauce.  Nestle the cooked steaks back into the pan and spoon the sauce over the top before serving.


Steak Au Poivre

What do I serve with Steak Au Poivre?

Since the steak is the star of the meal – keep the sides simple. We like green beans or asparagus with our steak, and mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree as well. Our Crème Brûlée for Two  would be a great dessert to complete this special meal. Enjoy!

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Steak Au Poivre

Steak Au Poivre

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: French


2 8-ounce tenderloin steaks (about 1 ½” – 2” thick)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon black whole peppercorns

2 teaspoons pink whole peppercorns, or additional black peppercorns if you can’t find pink

3 tablespoons butter, divided

¼ cup finely minced shallots (1 ½ ounces or one medium shallot)

¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon of good quality cognac

1 cup beef broth or stock

1 cup heavy cream

Salt as needed to taste (we used an additional ½ teaspoon)


Remove the two steaks from refrigeration, pat dry with paper towels and set on a rack over a plate.

Pat the teaspoon of kosher salt over all tops and sides of each steak then let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the steaks are resting, place the two types of peppercorns in a mortar and crush with a pestle to a coarse consistency, do not use a grinder. Alternatively, you could place the peppercorns in a kitchen towel and crack with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan. Some uncracked pieces are fine.

Cut the shallots and prepare and measure out all other ingredients before you start.

Place the steaks on a plate and pat on cracked peppercorns to top. Flip steaks and repeat for the opposite side. Press any peppercorns from the plate back onto the steaks so all of the peppercorns get used.

Turn oven to a warm setting (the lowest temp for your oven – 250 degrees F or less) and place two dinner plates in to warm. Try not to get them too hot.

When ready to cook, turn your stove fan to high and heat a cast iron pan on high heat and once smoking hot, add two tablespoons of the butter. Be ready for close-by smoke detectors to start singing.

The butter will melt then start to froth and brown. As soon as the butter starts to brown add both steaks and do not touch them for four minutes.

Flip and cook between three and six minutes on the second side depending on the thickness of the steak and your level of doneness. I always use the poke test where I tuck my thumb into my palm and make a loose fist. If I press on the pad above my thumb, that is how a medium rare steak will feel. If I squeeze tighter and press, that is how a medium steak will feel. If I open my hand and press the pad, that is how a rare steak will feel when poked. This method works extremely well for me. A steak that is 1 ½-inches thick should take about 8-9 minutes total. A 2-inch steak will take closer to 10 minutes, possibly longer, depending on how you like it cooked of course. Also don’t forget that the steak will need to rest and cook a little more off-heat. For steaks 2-inches and greater, you may need to sear the sides as well as the top and bottom so try to keep them under 2-inches thick. An 8-ounce steak should be right at 1 ½-inches thick. (See this tutorial on the Easiest Way to Tell when Steak is Done).

Remove the cooked steaks to the warm plates and cover each loosely with foil.

Turn heat under pan to medium and add the last tablespoon of butter. Once melted, add the shallots and stir and cook one minute.

Please take caution with this next step as you will be igniting the cognac.

Shut off heat and pour in the quarter cup of cognac then turn the heat to high. With a long match, light cognac. It will flare up for a second or two then go out as the alcohol gets burned off. Cook until most of the cognac has cooked off, about a minute or two.

Add the beef stock and boil to reduce to a third, about five minutes.

Add cream and once it starts to boil, reduce to a medium simmer and cook until the back of a spoon gets coated when dipped in the sauce. As it reduces, it thickens.

Remove from heat and stir in the teaspoon of cognac then taste. Add more kosher salt as needed. I added ½ teaspoon.

Place the steaks back into the sauce and coat. Then remove back to the serving dishes and serve with the sauce on the side or poured over each portion.

Keywords: steak au poivre, peppercorn steak with cognac sance


Steak Au Poivre

Steak Au Poivre

Steak Au Poivre

Steak Au Poivre

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  • Amanda wrote:

    This was amazing! Everyone loved it.

    The only disappointment is that my sauce didn’t thicken! Any tips??

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Amanda – You could simmer the sauce a little longer – at the point where you reduce the beef stock preferably, as well as once you’ve added the cream. Just be sure not to simmer the sauce at too hot of a temp once you’ve added the cream. That should do the trick!

  • Billie wrote:

    Even trying to figure out whatvtp fix for my DIL for her birthday and this is it!

    • Martha wrote:

      Excellent choice! Happy Birthday to your DIL!

  • Mary wrote:

    Incredible! If I could give this 10 stars, I would!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Mary!

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