Steak Au Poivre
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A classic French dish, steak au poivre is a pan-seared filet mignon with a crunchy peppercorn crust and rich Cognac sauce.
When I was twenty years old, I signed up to work as a summer au pair in Paris. I went there believing I’d be visiting museums and lingering in Parisian cafés as the children scampered about me in adorable berets, always ready and willing to take a nap when I needed a break. HA! I still laugh about that to this day. Instead, I was taking care of three mischievous little boys—and a puppy—running errands, and ironing children’s clothes for hours on end. But the job did have one special thing going for it: my host mother, Valérie, was a wonderful cook. When I think of her today, I still picture her standing at the kitchen table, crushing peppercorns with the back of a frying pan for her steak au poivre—a beef tenderloin fillet with a crunchy peppercorn crust, napped with a rich Cognac sauce.
What You’ll Need To Make Steak au Poivre
To begin, seal the peppercorns inside a small plastic bag and place on a cutting board. Using a meat pounder, pound the peppercorns until they are coarsely crushed.
Pat the steaks dry and, if they are thick, gently press them down so that they are about 1-1/2 inches tall. Season the steaks all over with the crushed peppercorns and salt, pressing to make sure the seasoning adheres.
In a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the steaks and cook about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, until nicely browned.
Flip the steaks and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer the steaks to a plate and tent with foil.
Pour off the excess fat from the pan but do not wipe clean. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the butter and shallots.
Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping up the brown bits, until the shallots are golden brown and softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Carefully add the Cognac (it may ignite) and bring to a boil stirring to to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Cook until the liquid is reduced to a glaze and mostly absorbed by the shallots, a few minutes.
Add the cream and mustard and bring to a gently boil.
Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes, and then stir in any meat juices that accumulated on the plate.
Transfer the steaks to plates and spoon the sauce over top.
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Steak au Poivre
A classic French dish, steak au poivre is a pan-seared filet mignon with a crunchy peppercorn crust and rich Cognac sauce.
- Four 6- to 8-ounce filet mignons
- 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots, from 1 medium shallot
- ½ cup Cognac or other brandy
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pat the steaks dry and, if they are thick, gently press them down so that they are about 1½ inches thick. Season the steaks all over with the salt.
- Seal the peppercorns inside a small plastic bag and place on a cutting board. Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan, pound the peppercorns until they are coarsely crushed. Press the crushed pepper evenly onto both sides of the steaks.
- In a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the steaks and cook about 4 minutes on each side, turning only once, for medium-rare (or about 5 minutes per side for medium). Transfer the steaks to a plate and tent with foil.
- Pour off the excess fat from the pan but do not wipe clean. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the butter and shallots. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping up the brown bits, until the shallots are golden brown and softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully add the Cognac (it may ignite) and boil, again stirring to scrape up the brown bits, until the liquid is reduced to a glaze and mostly absorbed by the shallots, a few minutes. Add the cream and mustard and gently boil until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in any meat juices that accumulated on the plate. Transfer the steaks to plates and spoon the sauce over top.
- Serving size: 1 6-oz filet
- Calories: 721
- Fat: 55 g
- Saturated fat: 26 g
- Carbohydrates: 5 g
- Sugar: 2 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 34 g
- Sodium: 587 mg
- Cholesterol: 217 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Gluten-Free Adaptable Note
To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.
Amazing!! Made this for Valentine’s Day and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with us, Jenn!
Excellent! Made this last night for Christmas dinner, and it was a hit. Thank you for another wonderful recipe! Made other dishes from Once Upon a Chef for Christmas dinner: Potatoes Au Gratin (a family favorite) and Cheesecake with Berry Sauce (first time making and it was fantastic). Thank you for developing and sharing such wonderful recipes – I am so grateful!
This was a lovely recipe I made for an anniversary dinner and the teens loved it too. It brought back memories from 30 years ago as an 18 year old, when I ate & drank my way thru France and Luxembourg for a month. Steak au Poivre or Sole Meuniere were my favorites! The simplicity of the French classics makes them timeless. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.
Hi Jenn –
I’m a big fan, have both of your cookbooks and followed your blog early on. I refer all my friends to your website.
My husband and I are going to Washington DC three nights before heading down to Blackberry farm in Tennessee. What steakhouse would you recommend in DC?
Hi Carol, thanks for your nice words about the recipes, your support of the cookbooks, and spreading the word about the blog! In terms of steakhouses, I’d recommend either The Palm or The Capital Grille. Hope you enjoy wherever you go and have a great trip!
Perfect steaks everytime now that I found you. Ty
Soooo good and so easy! I made this yesterday for Valentine’s Day and the presentation/deliciousness value to work was off the charts! I had one very thick filet mignon so I halved it to make thinner steaks and halved the recipe, using half and half instead of heavy cream. I covered the steak with foil and put in a 180 degree oven on dinner plates to keep the steaks warm while finishing the sauce. It was perfect! Our only dilemma was whether to drink a sparkling wine or good cabernet with the meal!
I’ve made this twice now and like all Jen’s recipes, it is amazing and easy. The first time I cooked the steaks in my cast iron pan on the stove top and they were very good. However, the second time, the steaks were really thick (at least 3 inches) so I seared them in the cast iron pan and then baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes and they were melt in your mouth amazing. By the way, Trader Joe’s has excellent fillets…not cheap, but worth it.
I’m planning to make this tonight but my husband INSISTS that filet is to be cooked on the grill and not in our cast iron skillet. Ugh. How do you suggest making the sauce without the pan being seasoned from the steaks? Sorry – cook newbie and always follow your recipes to a tee (you’re making us non-cooks look good!!!) so this is off-brand for me! Thank you and congrats on your new cookbook!
Hi Taylor, Thanks for your nice words about the cookbook! Regarding the steaks, you could add a touch more butter to the pan when cooking the shallots. Other than that there’s not a whole lot to change. The sauce will still be good but just not quite as flavorful without those Little browned bits that you would’ve gotten from cooking the steaks in the pan. Hope that helps!
Hi Jenn! I’ve been meaning to try this recipe ever since I got your cookbook over a year ago. However, we don’t consume alcohol. Is there a non-alcoholic alternative to cognac? Thank you!
Hi Maria, There’s not a great non-alcoholic substitute for the cognac but you can make this without it. It won’t be quite as flavorful, but will still be good. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
I adore steak au poivre and realized that I hadn’t had since I moved overseas 15 years ago.
However, since then, I’ve had some dairy issues with my tummy so I simply substituted beef broth for the cream. I certainly missed the creamy texture but my stomach thanked me later!
Another delicious, easy recipe – thanks Jenn!
My husband always believed a grill was the only way to cook a steak. I made Valerie’s steak au poivre and he is a convert! The sauce was fabulous. I also made the garlic and herb roasted baby potatoes and butter-braised brussel sprouts with shallots. What a meal to remember!
Made this for Valentine’s Day dinner. It is easy and incredible. My husband was thinking of where he had eaten this before then remembered it was in Paris. Thank you Jenn for making incredible food so easy for me to make.
This was delicious! I had to return the steaks to the skillet though as they were not cooked enough for our taste. We prefer our steaks medium. How long would you recommend I cook them next time to get a perfectly medium cooked steak ? (6 oz)
Hi Caroline. Glad you liked this! I’d cook them 5 minutes per side for medium.
OMG … Jenn. This Steak au Poivre recipe was truly incredible. I am not a huge fan of Filet Mignon, nor is my son, but I needed a stove top beef dish for his birthday dinner, as he loves meat. Problem is that our oven crapped out, which is why I needed the stove top strategy. (I couldn’t do my fall back Rosa de Parma.) Well, this entire ensemble (I did the pureed cauliflower and green beans with shallots) was magnificent. I have to say that the cauliflower dish was amazing, as well .. and surprising! But the sauce for the meat was beyond amazing. So Thank you! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. (I am a newbie to your site).
Love all your recipes I’ve tried!! Planning on doing this steak for Valentine’s Day. What do you suggest for sides? In the picture – is that roasted brussel sprouts & shallots?
Hi Cyndi, This would be nice with Green Beans with Shallots and Cauliflower Purée. It would also be great with the Brussels Sprouts in the picture. If you have my cookbook, the recipe is on page 166. If you don’t own the book, but would like the recipe, let me know and I can email you with it. Hope that helps!
We have made this recipe several times and it is our favorite recipe for filet mignon. I use a cast iron to sear the steaks. The cook time is accurate and yields tender, juicy steaks. Our family thinks the best part is the sauce which complements the crushed pepper on the steak. I simmer the sauce until the desired thickness and there is plenty of it to eat with everything else on the plate!
I made this recipe a few times now. It takes me back to the red velvet chairs, stuccoed walls and professional waiters wearing tuxedos doing tableside caesar salad, pepper steaks, steak Dianne, etc. The trick here is to use only the best ingredients. A poor cut of meat is a death blow to this recipe, so I encourage splurging on the neat quality.
I followed the recipe fairly closely making one change that will most certainly furrow your brow… I used a non dairy cream instead of the real stuff because of allergies. It lost some of the richness that is so pleasing in a good pepper steak, but given the circumstances, it was excellent!
I made this to celebrate my husband’s retirement. It was excellent. It’s funny, the sauce in its own was okay when I tasted it, but it was stellar on the steaks. I will make definitely this again and have shared the link with two friends.
Would you mind sharing a link to the meat pounder you use? We have a long handled wooden one with flat and toothed sides but I’d like a metal one. Easier to clean and probably more hygienic.
So glad you enjoyed it! This is a little different than the one I have and I’m not sure where I got it (I’ve had it forever) but I really like this one too.
Ive been making recipes from this website and they have all been awesome. Its really hard to top filet as is-salt and pepper is all it needs. If you are going to make a sauce to go with this choice cut of meat, the wine sauce with the filet is excellent. The recipe for the au poivre sauce is what it is. Some will enjoy. 5 stars for the stake, 3 for the sauce.
I just made this for NYE dinner. It was so delicious. My husband didn’t think he wanted the sauce, but he swiped the bowl clean! It was a great dinner to end 2020 and look forward to 2021.
A favorite simple dish I occasionally cook. However may I suggest adding 1T of ketchup and 5 drops of Worcestershire to the sauce. Adds a bit of tang and color is more pleasing to the eye. Love your recipes Jenn!
Can I substitute bourbon if I don’t have cognac or brandy on hand?
Sure – hope you enjoy!
Hi, I love every single one of your recipes that I’ve tried. Is there anything I can do with this dish to make it ahead?
So glad you like the recipes! I think this one is best prepared right before it’s served — sorry!
Another recipe that did not disappoint! 3 minutes/side made for perfectly rare steaks. Sauce was easy and even the picky teens poured copious amounts on their steaks. Thank you for all of your amazing recipes!
Can I prepare without cognac Or substitute something if I don’t have it? Thanks. I’ve loved everything I’ve made from your site so far!
Glad you’re enjoying the recipes! You could get away with substituting with a good quality brandy here. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
This tasted like I was at a high-end steakhouse. You continue to impress..thank you!
PS what is the green on top of the sauce in the picture? Dont see it on the list…
Italian/flat-leaf parsley. 🙂
The steak was delicious and 4min.per side was a perfect medium rare. The sauce was not as flavorful or as thick as I would have liked…a little on the soupy side. It was my first attempt at this recipe. Next time, I’ll reduce the sauce more.Quite an easy, quick recipe and impressive! Thank you, Jenn!
I made this for my husband on Valentine’s day and he said it was one of the best things I have ever cooked. Thank you!