Steak au Poivre by Chef Chris Watson

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This French bistro staple is a perfect mid-week dinner. While I rarely choose to cook eye fillet of beef, its melting tenderness is a great counterpoint to the pungent fragrance of a roasted crust of peppercorns.

At the restaurant, we use a mix of black, white and red single origin peppercorns from Kampot in Cambodia. It really is worth seeking out great quality peppercorns as their fragrance will elevate this dish into something special.

The few minutes it takes to make a pan sauce is the perfect resting time for the steak. Serve with French fries.

Serves four.


  • 4 portions of eye fillet, 200g each
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup cognac
  • 1 cup sour cream

Firstly, prepare the steaks. Using a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind the peppercorns. It must be very coarse, however the peppercorns should be cracked at least in half or quarters.

Pat the eye fillet portions with kitchen paper to dry. Lightly coat with a little olive oil, rubbing it all over each portion. Season each steak, top and bottom, with a generous amount of salt. Now sprinkle the peppercorns on each side of the steak, pressing them into the meat with your hand (to make sure they stick through the cooking process).

Bring a large, heavy-bottomed pan to a high heat. The pan must be large enough to hold the steaks with plenty of space around them. Consistently high heat is integral to a good crust

Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the hot pan. Turn the pan around to coat the base with oil. Add the steaks to the pan. Cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes on the first side. Turn over and continue cooking on the second side for 3-4 minutes longer.

At this point, turn the steaks on their side, and continue to cook, turning the steak every minute or so until every side has been sealed.

Your steak should now be cooked to rare. To continue cooking to medium rare, add the butter, and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes on each side.

Remove the steaks from the pan, transfer to a plate to rest while you make the sauce.

Pour any excess oil from the pan, and return it to a medium heat. Add the cognac, and being very careful, tilt the pan toward the flame until it ignites. Once the flames subside, and the cognac has reduced, add the sour cream. Bring to a simmer, and reduce for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Transfer the steaks to warmed serving plates, adding any resting juices to the sauce. Adjust the seasoning, and pour the sauce over the steaks.

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