Steak au Poivre

4 (6- to 8-oz) boneless medallion steaks, such as filet mignon

Kosher salt

1 ounce whole black peppercorns, plus more as needed, divided

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 thyme sprigs

1 medium garlic clove

1/2 large shallot (about 1 1/2 ounces), minced

2 tablespoons brandy or cognac

3/4 cup homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Season steaks all over with kosher salt. Set on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow to air-dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack peppercorns into rough halves and quarters. You can use a a mortar and pestle or a large mallet, meat pounder, or skillet to crush them (wrap the peppercorns in a clean kitchen towel first to contain them).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread cracked peppercorns on a plate or in another shallow dish and firmly press one side of each steak into the pepper to encrust it in an even layer. Set each steak aside, peppercorn side up. Reserve any remaining cracked peppercorns.

In a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the peppercorn crust. Add butter, thyme, and garlic and cook, basting steaks with a spoon, until steaks are well seared on the second side. Remove from heat. Allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes once the final doneness is reached.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet and discard garlic and thyme. Add shallot and any reserved cracked peppercorns, return to medium heat, and cook, stirring, until shallot is tender, about 2 minutes. Add brandy or cognac. Cook until raw alcohol smell has burned off and brandy has almost completely evaporated. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in cream, then simmer, stirring often, until sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon. Whisk in mustard. Season with salt. Arrange steaks on plates and pour sauce on top.


Yield: 4 servings