Steak au Poivre

One of my favourite ways to serve steak is this traditional French bistro method. Pepper, a seasoning that often hides in the background barely noticed, is thrust onto centre stage. Where normally we grind peppercorns into a fine powder, here they are left in larger chunks so you notice the flavour and texture as well as the heat.

Ingredients


  • 2 tblsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 sirloin, rump or fillet steaks (150-200g/5-7oz each)
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 50 ml brandy
  • 150 ml beef stock
  • 125 ml double or regular cream
  • 0.50 tsp dijon mustard

Method

  1. Use a pestle and mortar to coarsely crush the peppercorns, leaving quite large chunks of pepper. Alternatively, place the peppercorns in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to coarsely crush them. Tip into a sieve with a bowl underneath and shake out the powdered pepper. You can use the finer pepper grounds for seasoning something else but they would make the steaks too hot if combined with the larger pieces of pepper.
  2. Place a frying pan (cast-iron if possible) on a high heat, allowing it to get very hot. While the pan is heating, mix the larger pieces of pepper with the salt, spread this out on a plate and dip each steak into it so that the meat is completely coated in salt and pepper.
  3. The pan should be very hot by now, so pour in the olive oil. Add the steaks (cook them in batches if necessary) and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, depending how rare or well done you like them. Then remove to warmed plates and allow to rest.
  4. While the steaks are resting, make the sauce. With the pan still on a high heat, pour in the brandy (taking care as you pour it in as it may flame), boil for 30 seconds, then add the stock, cream and mustard. Whisk to combine and boil for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Taste the sauce for seasoning then spoon over the steaks and serve immediately with mashed potato to soak up the sauce.

Notes:

This recipe and many more are available in Rachel's book, 'Rachel Allen: Entertaining at Home', published by Harper Collins.





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