Steak au Poivre

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

1 (4-pound) beef tenderloin

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 handful fresh thyme sprigs

1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs

2 shallots, finely chopped

1/2 cup Cognac or brandy

1/2 cup demi-glace or dark stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons jarred green peppercorns, drained

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels and sprinkle all sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper – you should see the seasoning on the meat. Place a large skillet or roasting pan over medium-high flame, drizzle with the oil, and just when it begins to smoke lay the tenderloin in the hot pan. Brown on all sides until a crust forms and the meat is well-seared, about 7 minutes total. Toss the fresh thyme and rosemary on top of the tenderloin and transfer the whole thing to the oven; roast for 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare.
  3. Remove the tenderloin to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Pour off the excess fat from the pan and put it back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the shallots to the pan drippings, saute, stirring with a spoon to scrape up the flavors in the bottom. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the cognac (premeasure - never pour directly from the bottle!) Put the pan back on the heat and tilt it slightly over the burner to ignite the alcohol, or light with a kitchen lighter. The cognac will flame for a few seconds then go out as the alcohol burns off. Stir in the demi-glace and cream, simmer for about 1 minute to thicken the sauce so it coats a spoon. Finish the sauce by stirring in the mustard and peppercorns until incorporated. Taste and season with salt, if necessary.
  4. To serve: pile the watercress on a serving platter, cut the tenderloin into 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange it on top of the greens. Drizzle the sauce over the beef and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve the steak au poivre with pommes frites.