STEAK AU POIVRE (for four)

½ cup black peppercorns

4 New York strip steaks, about 1 pound each and 1-1/2 inches thick

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, more as needed

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 shallots, minced

3 tablespoons Cognac or other high quality brandy

½ cup full bodied red wine

1 cup beef stock

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh flat leaf parsley sprigs for garnish


1.   Using a mortar and pestle, or the coarsest setting on a pepper mill, crush the peppercorns until coarsely cracked.  Sprinkle the pepper evenly on both sides ofthe steaks and press it into the meat using your hands or the flat side of a cleaver blade.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

2.  Select one large frying pan or two smaller pans big enough to fit the steaks without crowding.  Melt the butter with the oil over medium high heat until bubbling, about 1 minute.  Add the steaks and sear on one side until browned, about 4 minutes.  Turn and sear on the other side until browned and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 125* for medium rare, about 5 minutes longer.   Transfer steaks to a warmed platter and cover the platter loosely with aluminum foil.

 3.  Add shallots to the pan and saute, adding more butter if needed to prevent sticking, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, add Cognac and flambe.  When the flames disappear, add the wine, bring to a boil and cook until lightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Add the stock, return to a boil and cook until reduced by half and thickened to a saucelike consistency, about 5 minutes longer.  Whisk in the cream and mustard and simmer 1 minute longer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.  Transfer the steaks to warmed individual plates and spoon some of the sauce over each serving. Garnish with the parsley and serve at once.

from the Williams Sonoma Cookbook

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