Steak au Poivre

Students at The Culinary Institute of America learn the fundamentals of cooking in Skill Development classes. One of these cooking basics is sautéing—the process of cooking food rapidly in a small amount of fat over high heat. Derived from the French word for jump, sautéing refers to the motion of food tossed in a hot pan.

Steak au Poivre

Steak with Green Peppercorns

Serves 4

  • 4 strip loin steaks or similar
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons crushed green peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon cognac or dry brandy
  • 1 cup brown veal stock (you may substitute beef stock)
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. Dry the steaks with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a skillet big enough to hold the steaks in one layer, then heat the oil until it begins to shimmer and smoke slightly.
  3. Sear the steaks on both sides until well-browned but slightly undercooked, about 1 to 2 minutes each side, and set aside (remove the steaks when they’re still rare if you want the final cooking temperature to be medium-rare). Cover and hold on the side (on a dinner plate with another dinner plate inverted on top works well).
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the butter and shallots. Stir the shallots occasionally to prevent burning, and when they’re translucent (after 2 to 3 minutes), add the green peppercorns. Lightly crush the peppercorns with the back of a wooden spoon or dinner fork to keep them from popping, and to release more of their flavor.
  5. With the pan off the heat, add the cognac or brandy. Be careful—it may flame up. Add the stock and scrape up the browned bits from the pan. Return it to the heat and allow the liquid to reduce by half. (Flaming the brandy can be exciting, but it is a bit dangerous.)
  6. Add the cream and any accumulated juices from the steaks; stir to combine and reduce until a nice consistency is achieved.
  7. Adjust seasoning. If necessary, re-heat the steaks briefly in the oven.
  8. Arrange the steaks on top of the sauce. For a nice presentation, the steaks can be carved on a bias.

Nutrition Analysis for sauce per one-ounce serving: 50 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 5g fat, 105mg sodium, 20mg cholesterol, 0g dietary fiber.

Nutrition Analysis for one eight-ounce strip sirloin: 550 calories, 43g protein, 0g carbohydrate, 41g fat, 120mg sodium, 150mg cholesterol, 0g dietary fiber.