If you are looking for a way to elevate your steak, this is one of the best and easiest ways to make it more flavorful with a to-die-for brandy cream sauce! Commonly known as pepper steak, steak au poivre and by other names, this is essentially a peppercorn crusted steak with a pan sauce. And this peppercorn crusted steak with brandy cream sauce is by far one of our all-time favorite steak preparations!
Which cut of beef is best in Steak au Poivre?
Generally when we make steak au poivre, we choose a tenderloin (filet mignon), probably 80% of the time. If you choose a ribeye or strip steak, for instance, you may want to trim the beef more than if you were to simply grill it and serve whole.
We encourage you to use whichever cut of meat you like best, though, until you discover the perfect one for your taste.
The peppercorn crust on the steak provides extra flavor and texture. To make the peppercorn crust, you simply smash up your own peppercorns (we prefer to use a combo of white, black, pink, and green) in a zip-top bag with a mallet or rolling pin, as opposed to using a spice grinder, for a coarser texture. This will provide the needed texture and a lot more flavor. Using pre-ground pepper from the store is definitely going to mute the flavor profile you are trying to achieve, so...try not to use that!
The spice of the pepper will be mellowed by the brandy cream sauce for a nice balance, so don't be afraid to get a good coating on that steak! Hey, it’s a bit of work bashing up peppercorns but you’ll be happy you did it and will be happy to do it again once you serve this gem of a dish!
Flambèing your Steak
Yes, that's right, you will be catching this dish on fire! Flambèing is another amazing way to add flavor to the steak but especially the sauce. Of course, we do not want you to hurt yourself, so PLEASE BE CAREFUL and follow the tips below:
Tips for Flambéing
- Use a pan with rounded deep sides and a long handle
- Always measure your brandy (or other alcohol) into a separate container and NEVER pour from the bottle
- Remove the pan from the heat (or turn off the heat) prior to adding your brandy
- Your pan should be hot, but not so hot that it is smoking
- If you have a range hood vent fan, turn it on. If you don’t have a range hood fan, move your pan to a counter space that is open and away from anything flammable
- Do not lean any part of your body over the pan
- Keep a lid nearby in case the fire continues to burn for longer than 15 seconds and cover the pan to put it out.
Brandy Cream Sauce
This is a one pan dish. You cook the steak first, then make the cream sauce in the same pan using all the deliciously seared peppercorns that came off during the searing process.
We recommend using clarified butter (ghee) in the pan when cooking the steak. This isn’t absolutely necessary, and
whole butter can work fine, but you must be prepared for a couple of challenges with regular whole butter. If you use whole butter, here are the disclaimers:
- First, you will have to be careful not to burn the butter when cooking the steaks. The milk solids in whole butter will brown and potentially burn at high heat, and this will result in a darker look to your sauce. The flavor of browned butter is delicious of course, but burnt butter can have an unwanted bitterness, and it will affect the flavor of the sauce
- Second, your ultimate sauce won’t taste quite as decadent. Don't get us wrong, it will still be amazing! And we've cooked this many upon many times with whole butter and loved every second of it. That being said, clarified butter just works better in this sauce and has a richer more buttery flavor at the end.
What is the "cream" part of the sauce?
To make the sauce creamy, we have a clear favorite that, again, we highly recommend you use: crème fraîche. Did ya think this was just a fancy name for sour cream? Well, it's not. Crème fraîche is actually different than sour cream and better suited for sauces (like this one) and here's why:
- Crème fraiche is higher in fat than sour cream and lower in protein, therefore allowing crème fraîche to be better for emulsified sauces.
- The flavors are different and that can be personal preference - creamy crème fraîche vs the tangy and acidic sour cream. But in this steak dish, the flavors of crème fraiche are perfect, and it just so happens to be better from a physical standpoint as well.
Make your own crème fraîche - it's easy!
Making your own crème fraîche is literally a piece of cake. All you need are two ingredients: heavy cream and buttermilk.
We often use crème fraîche in place of anything that calls for sour cream. For example, check out the recipe for our homemade blue cheese salad dressing on our Grilled Romaine and Pear Steakhouse Salad or our Shrimp and Creamy Cheese Grits for ways we use it.
We have also tried making this sauce with heavy cream, sour cream, half and half, and dairy alternatives. Believe us, crème fraîche is the answer!
Instructions for making crème fraîche at home...
Just mix 8 oz of heavy cream and 1 oz of buttermilk in a sealed container and leave it at room temperature overnight or for up to 24 hours. The consistency will change and it will thicken overnight. Once it is "set," refrigerate and use as you please!
What about the wine?
Every steak deserves a nice bold red wine to allow it to reach it's full potential! We typically turn to a big bold blended red, or a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Bordeaux, Brunello di Montalcino, Primitivo/Zynfandel, or Petite Syrah.
We especially love a French Bordeaux, Washington red wines (like Mullan Road Cellars Red Wine Blend) or California cabs with a flavorful steak dish like this Peppercorn Crusted Steak and Brandy Cream Sauce. The ultimate goal here is to find a wine that is big enough to handle the richness of the dish and you are set.
We hope you enjoy this recipe for Peppercorn Crusted Steak and Brand Cream Sauce! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
If you like this recipe, check out more of our popular recipes below:
- Crunchy Chicken with White Wine Lemon Butter Sauce
- Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- Parmesan Peppercorn Mashed Potatoes
- Spicy Cajun Roasted Cauliflower