Steak Au Poivre

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

A classic French dish, steak au poivre is a pan-seared filet mignon with a crunchy peppercorn crust and rich Cognac sauce.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski, Chronicle Books 2018

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. (Photo above by Alexandra Grablewski, Chronicle Books 2018)

What You’ll Need To Make Steak au Poivre

ingredients for steak au poivre

How 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.

pounding the peppercorns for steak au poivre

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.

seasoning 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 to 5 minutes on the first side, until nicely browned.

searing the steaks on first side

Flip the steaks and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer the steaks to a plate and tent with foil.

searing the steaks on second side

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.

adding butter and shallots to the skillet

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.

softened shallots

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.

simmering cognacCook until the liquid is reduced to a glaze and mostly absorbed by the shallots, a few minutes.

cognac reduced to a glaze

Add the cream and mustard and bring to a gently boil.

adding heavy cream and mustard

Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes, and then stir in any meat juices that accumulated on the plate.

thickened sauce

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.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients

  • Four 6- to 8-ounce filet mignons
  • 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots, from 1 medium shallot
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Pat the steaks dry and, if they are thick, gently press them down so that they are about 1-1/2 inches thick. Season the steaks all over with the salt.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

See more recipes:

Reviews & Comments

  • 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!

    • — Shellie Harvey on February 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Terrie Garrison on February 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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).
    Cheers

    • — Dennis Jud on February 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    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?
    Thanks!

    • — Cyndi on February 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on February 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Amy on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Perry Pearlman on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Renee on January 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Henry on January 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Tonya on December 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Francesca McAndrew on December 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Can I substitute bourbon if I don’t have cognac or brandy on hand?

      • — Taylor on December 30, 2020
      • Reply
      • Sure – hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on December 31, 2020
        • Reply
  • 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?

    • — Monica on October 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! I think this one is best prepared right before it’s served — sorry!

      • — Jenn on October 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Naomi on October 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Jackie F on October 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on October 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • This tasted like I was at a high-end steakhouse. You continue to impress..thank you!

    • — Jen on August 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • PS what is the green on top of the sauce in the picture? Dont see it on the list…

      • — jen on August 2, 2020
      • Reply
      • Italian/flat-leaf parsley. 🙂

        • — Jenn on August 4, 2020
        • Reply
        • 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!

          • — Kathy Vukasovich on September 28, 2020
          • Reply
  • Delicious!

    • — Donna on July 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Carly on February 29, 2020
    • Reply

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