Pepper Steak (Steak au Poivre)
Steak au poivre or pepper steak is a classic French dish that is popular and can easily found on the menu. The most important thing is to get the best quality of beef. A fillet or sirloin from a good breed is preferable. When I was at the supermarket, I couldn’t make up my mind which one I wanted to get as there is a huge difference in price tag. I saw some really nice pieces of Aberdeen Angus beef. In the end, I got myself 2 pieces of British sirloin steaks, which the quality looked just as good, but for the half of the price of a small piece of Aberdeen Angus beef filet! I knew that either one wouldn’t disappoint me that they looked really fresh and were all nicely vacuum packed.
Before I came to the UK, beef wasn’t something that I ate at home. Mom wasn’t brought up eating beef, that explains why it is not something that she cooks at home. However, as I grow up and learn more about other cuisines, I try out beef and also learn about different cuts of beef. Though, I don’t eat it very frequently, when I eat it, I make sure I get the best quality I could. Going to a butcher is one of the best ways to get fresh and high quality of beef. But, when I am too lazy to make a trip, then I will just go to Marks & Spencer – one of the best supermarkets in the UK that source great quality of food. Otherwise, the butcher that I trust and go to is in Clapham called M Moen & Sons.
Other than great quality of beef, the other important ingredient is black peppercorns. I have used a spice grinder to roughly crush the peppercorns. You can use a mortar or pestle or simply use the back of a spoon to crush the peppercorns on a flat surface. The other best part of this dish has to be the sauce that is made from Cognac, white wine and the juice of the beef. Some recipes do call for double cream just to make a bit more sauce. So, it is entirely up to you. I have decided to serve this with some roasted potatoes, green beans and broccoli.
For the Pepper Steak (Steak au Poivre):
4 floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
300g broccoli or green beans, trimmed
4 x 200g fillet or sirloin steaks
6 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
3 tbsp Cognac
60ml white wine
125ml double cream
salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C. Meanwhile, put the quartered potatoes in a roasting tin, drizzle over 2 tbsp of the olive oil, rosemary and a pinch of salt and ground black pepper, toss to coat. Put in the oven and bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until brown and crisp.
2. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the broccoli and cook for 3 -4 minutes until tender. Drain and quickly plunge into cold water to stop cooking. Set aside. Once the potatoes are almost cooked, prepare the steaks by rubbing the steaks on both sides with the remaining olive oil and press the crushed peppercorns onto the meat. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the steaks for 2 -4 minutes on each side, depending on how you like your steak.
3. Add the Cognac and flambé by lighting the pan with your gas flame or a match. Put the steaks on individuals warm plate. Add the wine to the pan and let it come to the boil, stirring, for 1 minute to deglaze the pan. Add the cream and stir for 1 -2 minutes. Heat up the vegetables and divide onto the plates. Divide the roasted potatoes onto individual plates too.
4. Once the sauce has come to slight boil, season with salt and pour over the steaks.